DeMeco Ryans‘ team has been active during the first week of free agency, and the Texans will add another experienced starter to the mix.
Cory Littleton met with the Texans and will sign a one-year deal, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes. The former Rams, Raiders and Panthers linebacker agreed to terms on a $2.2MM contract Tuesday, Wilson adds, indicating $500K in incentives are present in the deal. Littleton’s paragraph 5 salary will check in at $1.3MM.
Houston will be Littleton’s third destination in three years. The Raiders shed his lucrative contract from their payroll last year, designating him as a post-June 1 cut, and the Panthers gave the former Super Bowl starter a one-year contract. Littleton is now going into his age-30 season, but he will supply the Texans with considerable experience.
The Texans have added numerous midlevel veterans on short-term deals during Nick Caserio‘s GM tenure. Two of those — Christian Kirksey and Blake Cashman — remain in Houston’s linebacker mix. Littleton will bring 71 starts’ worth of experience to this group, which also includes 2022 third-round pick Christian Harris.
The Panthers reduced Littleton’s playing time last season, starting him in seven of the 15 games he played. Littleton logged just a 36% defensive snap rate — his lowest since 2017 — and finished with 47 tackles and two pass deflections. The Raiders gave Littleton a three-year, $35.2MM contract in 2020, bringing in the two-year Rams starter who entered free agency that year with a strong reputation in coverage. After Littleton played 90% of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps in 2020, Gus Bradley reduced his workload — following an August 2021 trade for Denzel Perryman, Bradley’s ex-Chargers pupil — the next year.
Prior to the Las Vegas letdown, however, Littleton combined for 259 tackles, 7.5 sacks and five interceptions from 2018-19 in Los Angeles. Coming into his 2020 free agency, Littleton had been one of the league’s most productive linebackers. The Texans will kick the tires on the ex-Rams standout and 2018 Pro Bowler.
This Littleton addition comes after the Texans met with Perryman, who had been a Raiders regular in 2021 and ’22. Perryman remains unsigned, though both the Texans and Titans expressed interest. Littleton likely carries a lower price tag by comparison, given Perryman’s momentum. But this year’s linebacker market included numerous first-stringers; most of them have found homes and most have done so on lower-level deals. Perryman, 30, will probably not end up with the kind of contract he sought.