Free agent frenzy turns to fizzle
Silver & Black Illustrated|January 2021
From the first pick to the last, the NFL draft is a complete roll of the dice. There are no sure things, no guarantees of a player’s success regardless of where he gets selected. Every team rolls the dice and hopes for the best.

With few exceptions, free agency works the same way.

The Raiders have done fairly well through the draft since general manager Mike Mayock was hired. The team’s moves in free agency, however, haven’t worked out nearly as well, particularly the 2020 class that Las Vegas brought aboard.

Linebacker Cory Littleton is the poster boy for that.

Signed to a $35.2 million, three-year contract in the offseason after being one of the top players available on the free agent market, Littleton has been a major disappointment. He has made minimal impact on a defense that has had issues across the board and has struggled in pass coverage, which was supposed to be his strength and was one of the main reasons the Raiders lavished him with the contract they did.

Heading into the final month of the season, Littleton was fourth on the team in tackles and had not been credited with a single pass breakup.

Littleton, who missed two games while on the Covid-19 reserve list, acknowledged the pressure around him to play better is increasing.

“In a sense, because that pressure isn’t necessarily the biggest pressure on myself. The biggest pressure comes from internally,” Littleton said. “Every year that I played before I came to this organization,, I always wanted to be a top five linebacker and that was the way I was going to play. I still come to the game with the same mindset. The results haven’t been the same. Hopefully I can get that to change.”

Here’s a look at some of the other notable moves the Raiders made in free agency this year and how they have worked out so far. This list does not include defensive linemen Vic Beasley Jr. and Takk McKinley, a pair of late-season additions who are still learning the defense. A better evaluation of those two can be made after the season is over.

• Defensive end Carl Nassib ($25.2 million, 3 years): Like Littleton, Nassib was supposed to have a much bigger impact on the defense than he has. Athough Nassib has 1 ½ sacks and seven pressures, the Raiders expected far more and haven’t hidden their disappointment. The fact that Nassib was a healthy inactive in Week 13 spoke volumes about where he is in the eyes of the coaching staff.

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