Coming off a 7-9 season in 2019, it was clear the Las Vegas Raiders needed more talent. This, was especially evident on defense. Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock understood this and made many big signings for big money on this side of the ball. However, the results are not probably the ones the teams’ brass hoped.
The Raiders thought they would get better returns from these three
Carl Nassib, Pass Rusher
After a 6.5 sack season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Raiders gave Carl Nassib a three-year $25 million contract. Nevertheless, he didn’t came close to living up to it. A five-game starter for the Silver and Black, the Penn State product recorded just 2.5 sacks and one interception. To top off his disappointing season, the former Hard Knocks star was a healthy scratch twice late in the season.
Maliek Collins, Defensive Tackle
Once called “the key to the defense” by the defensive coordinator Paul Guenther, Collins was a non-factor in 2020. In 12 games, Collins recorded 15 tackles with no sacks or tackles for loss. He signed a one-year prove-it kind of deal last offseason and the Raiders will probably not miss his services in 2021.
Cory Littleton, Linebacker
Littleton, the prize of the Raiders 2020 free-agent class, never really found his footing in Las Vegas. Signed to a three-year, $36 million contract Littleton battled Covid-19 en route to starting 14 games in 2020. In those contests, he recorded 82 tackles, four of which for a loss. While he did raise his level of play towards the end of the season, he did not perform anywhere near the level the Raiders projected. Getting Littleton back to his Pro Bowl ways will be one of the first tasks on new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s to-do list.
The Raiders have taken very few steps forward as a roster and it its partly due to the constant misses they have experienced in free agency. Luckily for the Raiders, the 2021 crop of free agents has plenty of high-end talent and depth. In Gruden’s third year running the Raiders, he absolutely has to get free agency right.
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Top Photo: Associated Press/John Locher, Pool