Cory Littleton was a great story for the Los Angeles Rams. He was undrafted, made his mark on special teams and then became one of the best inside linebackers in the NFL.
But the Rams have given out some enormous contracts, and they can’t hold onto everyone.
Littleton agreed to a three-year, $36 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders on Tuesday according to NFL.com, a day after the Raiders signed former Bears linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski to a three-year, $21 million deal. Las Vegas also agreed to a deal with quarterback Marcus Mariota in an active start to free agency.
Rams lose a key player
The Rams have roughly $108.8 million in cap hits tied up in five players: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Brandin Cooks and Jalen Ramsey.
That forced the Rams to make tough decisions. Although Littleton is a true three-down linebacker who can impact the game in many ways, the Rams couldn’t top what is a fairly modest — at least with some of the other deals given out to this point — $12 million per year deal. Los Angeles also saw defensive tackle Michael Brockers leave to Baltimore. Safety Eric Weddle retired and pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. is a free agent. The Rams defense will look a lot different.
Littleton was a Pro Bowl player in 2018. He put up 125 tackles in 2018 and 134 tackles last season. The Rams will miss him in the middle of their defense.
Raiders improve the defense
The Raiders have had issues at inside linebacker for a while. They haven’t been able to fix them through other short-term free-agent additions like NaVorro Bowman and Vontaze Burfict. Littleton, who is just 26 years old, should be an answer for the next few seasons.
The Raiders want to make a good impression in their new city. A truly huge addition isn’t likely to happen, though they’re always pretty active on the free-agent and trade market.
Littleton will be a fine addition. Las Vegas will have a new defensive centerpiece to root for.
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