During Paul Guenther’s run as the Las Vegas Raiders‘ defensive coordinator between 2018 and 2020, the team’s defense was dreadful and consistently ranked near the bottom of the NFL. Last year was the final straw as the team fired him before the season was even over. One player that struggled the most under Guenther was linebacker Cory Littleton.
The former Los Angeles Rams Pro Bowler was the team’s biggest signee last offseason but he failed to live up to the hype. After having multiple sacks and interceptions in each of the previous two seasons, Littleton didn’t give the Raiders any. He also struggled in coverage, which was what he was supposed to be best at.
He’s played better under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and is having far fewer ugly plays week-to-week. However, he’s still not the elite linebacker the Raiders were hoping they were getting when they signed him. Brent Sobleski of Bleacher Report believes that Littleton is the worst contract the team has:
However, Littleton hasn’t been the same player since he made the switch.
To be fair, the Raiders already had three defensive coordinators in Littleton’s year-plus with the organization. But the linebacker still doesn’t appear to be the best overall fit for Gus Bradley’s scheme. He’s struggled in coverage based on what’s asked of him.
The Raiders can save $11.75 million in cap space by designating him a post-June 1 release or trade next offseason.
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Will Raiders Move on From Littleton?
Littleton is playing like an average starting linebacker for the Raiders right now but that’s not what they’re paying him to be. He’s the 26th highest paid linebacker in the NFL right now but would be much higher on the list if it didn’t include players known more for being pass rushers like T.J. Watt, Khalil Mack and Von Miller. He’s one of the Raiders’ highest-paid defenders and has the second-highest cap hit with $5.9 million this season.
Littleton is a solid player and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep him around and let him continue to learn Bradley’s defense. He has a nearly $16 million cap hit next year. There would be $14 million in dead cap if they cut him. Like it or not, the Raiders will likely need to keep him for another season.
Other Bad Raiders Contract
The season started off strong for Carl Nassib. He had a strip-sack on Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson that saved the game for the team. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had much of an impact since. Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the 64th best edge defender in the NFL and he’s accumulated 1.5 sacks this season.
He also struggled last season as he notched 2.5 sacks all season. Nassib was signed during the same offseason that Littleton was signed. Similar to the linebacker, he’s struggled to live up to his contract. He’s set to have a cap hit of nearly $9.7 million next season. He would leave the Raiders with $6.6 million in dead cap if cut so he’s likely staying put for another season. The team just has to hope that he starts providing more production as a pass rusher.