It may sound like a broken record, but the Las Vegas Raiders need help at linebacker. That’s been the case for several years and the team just keeps putting bandaids on the issue instead of finding a long-term solution. Luckily for Las Vegas, there are a couple of strong options about to hit free agency and the Raiders are flush with cap space.
According to Vincent Bonsignore of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, one name to keep an eye on is Los Angeles Rams linebacker Cory Littleton.
Littleton has been one of the better linebackers in the NFL and was a Pro Bowler in 2018. There’s no doubt he will command big money, but it’s time for the Raiders to invest in needs.
Littleton the Difference-Maker the Raiders Need?
Considering Jon Gruden is an offensive-minded head coach, it’s always possible that he’ll avoid spending big money on defense. However, even he knows that Raiders need a linebacker who can do well in pass coverage if they have any hope of beating the Chiefs. Bonsignore outlined what makes Littleton so special:
“A sideline-to-sideline defender who can also rush the passer, Littleton registered 134 tackles last year — sixth best in the NFL for linebackers — while fanning on five tackles. His 3.6 missed tackle percentage was the best in the NFL among linebackers with 60 or more tackles.
What makes Littleton compelling is his elite pass coverage skills. He was fifth best among linebackers with nine passes defended in 2019 — he has 23 over the last two seasons – and according to various grading sites, he measures among the best at his position in pass coverage.”
Raiders linebackers have been epically bad in pass coverage over the years and Littleton would be a welcome change. He can do everything and do it well. Las Vegas has promising young pieces all over the defense, but not at linebacker. If they aren’t planning on drafting one early, they need to make Littleton an offer he can’t refuse.
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Other Targets If Littleton Stays With Rams
Unfortunately for the Raiders, the Rams aren’t going to be too keen on letting go of their star linebacker. While not ideal, the franchise tag is always a possibility. He could also just prefer to sign with the team that gave him a chance as an undrafted free agent. If he does stay in Los Angeles, Bonsignore pegged Joe Schobert, De’Vondre Campbell and Blake Martinez as potential options.
Out of those names, Schobert is the most interesting. The Cleveland Browns are reportedly going to let him test the market and he probably won’t be as expensive as Littleton. The 2017 Pro Bowler excels in pass defense, which is exactly what the Raiders need. Bonsignore believes they are ready to go after him:
“Reports out of Cleveland indicate the Browns are prepared to let Schobert test the market. While he isn’t likely to command the same money as Littleton, his age, production level and upside will be enticing to many teams. The Raiders are expected to be one of them.”
Schobert isn’t as exciting as Littleton, but he’d still be an upgrade over what the team currently has. It’s very possible he’s wearing silver and black in 2020.