The Las Vegas Raiders roster is mostly set but that doesn’t mean there won’t be more transactions to happen in the coming weeks. The team has very little cap space so it didn’t look like any notable moves could happen. However, that might have changed.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Raiders are restructuring the contract for star free agent signee Cory Littleton.
Some early season accounting: The #Raiders restructured LB Cory Littleton’s contract to create $8.272M in cap room & the #Steelers did same with G David DeCastro. Pittsburgh now has pushed $25M into future years to create room.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 8, 2020
The linebacker won’t be losing out on any money but it will create $8.272 million of cap space for the silver and black. Most of Littleton’s first-year salary was turned into a big bonus, so that’s a pretty big sign of confidence in the former Pro Bowler. Las Vegas now has a decent chunk of change to play with.
Does This Mean Raiders Are Making a Move?
Even if the Raiders made this move before Jadeveon Clowney signed with the Tennessee Titans, they would’ve still needed to move stuff around to afford him. A natural reaction to a team opening up so much cap space is that they might be trying to sign a player. The most obvious potential target would former Baltimore Ravens safety Earl Thomas.
He was recently let go by the team for starting a fight with a teammate but he’s still very talented. The Raiders cut Damarious Randall recently and he was expected to start at safety. Perhaps they cut Randall with plans to go after Thomas. That said, general manager Mike Mayock recently heaped a lot of praise at Erik Harris. Based on what he was saying, it doesn’t sound like safety is a need for the Raiders.
Other than Thomas, there aren’t any big-ticket free agents left of the board. In all likelihood, the team created this cap space so they have more flexibility throughout the season. It’s difficult to know which big names could become available as the season goes on. Also, the offseason has been very different so it’s possible the Raiders’ needs become much more apparent as the season goes on. It was smart for the team to add cap space but don’t expect a big name to be coming in soon.
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Raiders Should Avoid Thomas
If the Raiders are thinking about going after Thomas, they need to stop right now. Yes, he’s an excellent player and should still have some juice left in the tank. From a skill standpoint, getting Thomas on a one-year deal for around $8 million would be a huge steal.
However, he’s probably the last player the team would be able to trust in Las Vegas. Thomas had issues in Baltimore and those issues will be accentuated in “Sin City.” The Raiders tried this experiment with Antonio Brown last year and it was a huge failure. Thomas is essentially the defensive version of Brown. The Raiders have a young team and don’t need a bad presence in their locker room right now. They’d be better off taking a look at a player like Eric Berry.