The Los Angeles Rams have a solid inside linebacker that is heading to unrestricted free agency in Cory Littleton and the Denver Broncos are in position to make something happen if they feel they need to bolster that position in 2020 and beyond.
Littleton, by all accounts, has emerged as one of the premier talents at inside linebacker. Though he remains a bit of an underrated kind of star and the Rams have not yet worked out a long-term deal with him. That means he could very well be heading to free agency.
What kind of contract could he get
Part of the reason why the Rams may not have a deal with Littleton yet is their salary cap situation. Things are going to get tight quick as they look to re-sign some of their unrestricted free agents. Along with Littleton, they have to consider Dante Fowler, Greg Zuerlein, Michael Brockers, and others to fit within a $23 million projected salary cap. Certainly doable if Littleton is near the top of that list.
Turf Show Times examined what kind of market Littleton might have and it comes out to a hefty price tag. Given his coverage abilities, sure tackling, and leadership, he’ll command one of the top deals in free agency at his position in 2020. Denver would be looking in the neighborhood of a 4-year deal, $59 million and $36.5 million guaranteed.
Why the Broncos should sign him
Despite the big numbers, Littleton might just be worth every penny. The 26 year old dominated in pass coverage, earning one of the highest coverage grades at the position and finished as the highest-graded tackler in the NFL last season. Imagine that kind of ability paired with a linebacker specialist like Vic Fangio and his coaching staff.
Littleton finished with 134 combined tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defensed. However, his under the radar status kept him out of the Pro Bowl last season. In 2018, he did make the Pro Bowl with 125 combined tackles, 4 sacks, 3 interceptions, a pick six, and 13 passes defensed. He is certainly no one-year wonder.
Why the Broncos shouldn’t sign him
It’ll take a big chunk out of the available salary cap space. If you are a true believer in Todd Davis as the answer in coverage and leadership, then it might be more affordable to stay the course with him.
The Broncos will have until the official start of free agency on March 18, 2020 to exercise Davis’ contract for next season. If they wait until the last minute, it could mean they are seeing if they can upgrade the position during the legal tampering period March 16-17.
I just don’t see how the Rams would sit idly by to let Littleton go into free agency without an offer, but they don’t have a deal in place yet and if they decide to let him test free agency the Broncos should absolutely pounce. Coverage linebackers like Littleton are hard to find and I think he would excel within Fangio’s scheme along side Alexander Johnson. The likely event for the Rams will be some sort of franchise tag or transition tag situation if no deal gets down, but you never know.
What do you think Broncos Country?
Should the Broncos target Cory Littleton if he makes it to free agency?
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