Cory Littleton

Nine Teams Gain Cap Space From Post-June 1 Cuts

Although early June no longer serves as a stretch in which a wave of veterans are released for cap-saving purposes, June 2 still serves as an important calendar date for certain teams annually. Nine teams qualify as beneficiaries this year.

Eleven players were designated as post-June 1 cuts this year, via CBS Sports’ Joel Corry. Due to a longstanding CBA provision, teams that designate players as post-June 1 releases see the dead-money burden lessened for that year. Teams can designate up to two players as post-June 1 releases each year.

Here are 2022’s post-June 1 cuts, along with the belated cap savings the teams picked up Thursday:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Las Vegas Raiders

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Commanders

As detailed in PFR’s glossary, post-June 1 cuts spread dead-money hits over two years. These teams will be taking on dead money this year and next. A few of the 2023 hits are substantial, but the league’s cap-space hierarchy changed significantly Thursday as well.

Because of multiple restructures, Raiders will carry $9.9MM in Littleton dead money next year. The Cowboys will take on $8.7MM in 2023 for cutting Collins, while the Titans will be hit with $8.4MM for their Jones release. Cleveland, which just gave David Njoku a $14.2MM-per-year deal, will carry a $7.5MM dead-money cost next year due to shedding Hooper’s eight-figure-AAV deal early. The Eagles will be tagged with $11.5MM for their Cox cut, with Corry noting that is the net difference because of a $3.2MM salary cap credit regarding Cox’s 2022 bonus proration. Philadelphia re-signed the perennial Pro Bowler on a one-year, $14MM deal.

Hooper’s release pushes Cleveland’s cap space to beyond $40MM; the Browns’ overall cap-space edge is now a whopping $15MM. That should help the team address multiple needs ahead of training camp. Other teams have more options now, too. As of Thursday, the Raiders hold the NFL’s third-most cap space ($22.5MM, per OverTheCap). The $10MM the Cowboys saved moves them up to fourth in cap space ($22.49MM), while the Bears ($22.2MM), Commanders ($18.4MM) and Seahawks ($17MM) now sit fifth, sixth and seventh.

A handful of this year’s post-June 1 cut crop joined Cox in taking advantage of the modern setup, which allows these cap casualties to become free agents immediately — rather than waiting until June to hit the market. In place since the 2006 CBA, this adjustment let veterans loose early while keeping their cap figures on teams’ payrolls through May. Collins quickly joined the Bengals, while Littleton landed with the Panthers, Hooper signed with the Titans, and Phillips returned to the Bills. The remainder of this group remains unsigned. The savings this lot of teams inherited Thursday may help some of these players’ causes in free agency.

Panthers Sign Cory Littleton

Cory Littleton has found his third NFL home. The Panthers announced on Sunday that they have signed the veteran linebacker. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero adds (on Twitter) that the deal is for one year and $2.6MM, with $2MM guaranteed. 

[RELATED: Panthers Re-Sign CB Jackson]

Littleton, 28, started his career with the Rams in 2016. After two seasons playing primarily as a special-teamer, he took on a starting role the following year. Given the new opportunity, he put together two highly productive campaigns, earning a Pro Bowl nod in 2018. In his final two years in Los Angeles, the former UDFA totalled 259 tackles and 7.5 sacks.

That production earned the former Washington Huskie a three-year contract worth over $35MM with the Raiders in 2020. However, his deal was re-worked three times during his two seasons with the team. As a result of the complicated financial situation that created – along with his solid, but unspectacular production – Littleton was released earlier this month.

In Carolina, Littleton will reunite with former college teammate Shaq Thompson and provide a veteran presence to an otherwise relatively young defense. Looking to rebuild his value closer to the level it was at two years ago, the short-term deal could give him an opportunity to do just that as the Panthers look to improve a unit which ranked second in the league in terms of yards per game allowed, but just 21st in scoring defense.

Raiders To Release LB Cory Littleton

One of the top free agent signings two years ago, Cory Littleton will be back on the market. The Raiders have informed the veteran linebacker he will be released, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets.

The Raiders brought in multiple veteran linebackers last year and have since hired a new head coach and GM. Although it is not certain, Littleton is certainly a candidate to be designated as a post-June 1 cut. If not, the Raiders would save just $1MM and see $14MM in dead money.

A post-June 1 designation would bring just a $4MM dead-cap hit this year. Las Vegas reworked Littleton’s contract three times over the past year and change, leading to the sizable dead-money number. Indeed, the Raiders are using this designation, Tashan Reed of The Athletic tweets. While the team will not be able to use the cap savings until June, it avoids this eight-figure dead-money sum hitting in 2022.

Despite his production with the Rams, Littleton did not live up to his contract with the Raiders, who signed him to a three-year, $35.25MM deal in 2020. After Littleton played 90% of Las Vegas’ defensive snaps in 2020, one-and-done DC Gus Bradley limited his work to 57% last season. Littleton, who impressed in coverage as a two-year starter with the Rams, made 98 tackles last season and 82 in 2020. He topped 120 stops in both his final two Rams slates.

The Raiders brought in both K.J. Wright and Denzel Perryman at the position. With Patrick Graham now in the DC role, it will be interesting to see how the Raiders address this group. Wright and Nicholas Morrow are free agents, while Perryman and Nick Kwiatkoski remain under contract for 2022.

NFL COVID-19 List Updates: 1/1/22

Here are the New Year’s Day activations from and placements on the reserve/COVID-19 lists:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: G Oli Udoh

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: CB Bryce Hall

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Raiders, Cory Littleton Restructure Contract

The Raiders converted $4.25MM of Cory Littleton‘s base salary into a roster bonus (Twitter link via Field Yates of ESPN.com). Now, the Raiders have created $3.4M in cap space for the current year.

This marks the third restructure for Littleton, who saw his contract reworked in September of 2020 and again in March this year. The Raiders initially signed the former Rams linebacker to a three-year, $35.25MM pact. For all intents and purposes, the deal remains the same. The only real difference is that the Raiders have carved out extra space in this year’s pandemic-altered cap while kicking the can down the road to next year, when the salary max will increase.

Littleton, 28 in November, has 15 stops through two games this year. He’s looking to bounce back from a weak debut season with the Raiders, when he struggled in Paul Guenther’s defense. Now, under the tutelage of new DC Gus Bradley, Littleton is eager to turn back the clock and showcase his old Rams form.

That’s everything for me,” Littleton said recently (via the Las Vegas Review-Journal). “At the end of the day, nobody wants to have a bad performance. That’s not why we play. We just want to do our best.”

Littleton’s next chance at redemption will come on Sunday when the Raiders take on the Dolphins in Vegas.

Raiders Restructure Cory Littleton, Nick Kwiatkoski Deals

Via releases, trades and restructures, the Raiders have made several moves over the past week and change to create cap space. They continued to do so Friday.

Las Vegas will restructure two deals from the 2020 free agency period, rearranging some funds in Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski‘s deals, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Together, these moves will create more than $7MM in cap space for the Raiders.

[RELATED: Raiders, Nicholas Morrow Discussing Deal]

This marks the second restructure for Littleton, who initially saw his contract reworked in September of last year. The Raiders initially signed the former Rams linebacker to a three-year, $35.25MM pact. Kwiatkoski signed a three-year, $21MM pact last March, completing an overhaul of the Raiders’ linebacking corps.

Over the past week and change, the Raiders have released Gabe Jackson, Richie Incognito and Lamarcus Joyner to clear up more than $25MM in cap space. They traded Trent Brown to the Patriots, adding another chunk to that total. They have climbed into the top 10 in cap space, now holding more than $30MM.

COVID-19 Latest: Ravens, Williams, Browns

Earlier Wednesday, the NFL took the Ravens-Steelers rematch off its Thanksgiving schedule. That game is now on tap for 12:15pm CT Sunday. More is emerging on why the Steelers will see another of their games delayed. The Ravens disciplined a strength and conditioning coach for “conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases that have affected players and staff.” The Ravens are levying the discipline because the unnamed staffer did not report symptoms or consistently wear a mask or a contact tracing device, according to NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (on Twitter). This is believed to have contributed to the Ravens’ outbreak — one that comes nearly two months after a Titans outbreak altered the Steelers’ schedule. Seven Ravens players and at least five staffers have tested positive for COVID. This will not only weaken Baltimore against Pittsburgh but potentially deplete team’s roster for its Week 13 Thursday game against Dallas.

Several teams shuffled their rosters because of COVID on Wednesday. Here is the latest:

  • 49ers left tackle Trent Williams tested positive for COVID-19 last week, per ESPN.com’s Dan Graziano (on Twitter). A cancer survivor, Williams has not experienced issues with the virus yet, Graziano tweets. Williams, who landed on the 49ers’ COVID list earlier this month as a high-risk close contact, is on track to miss San Francisco’s Week 12 game in Los Angeles.
  • Six players remain on San Francisco’s virus list. The 49ers removed Arik Armstead and center Hroniss Grasu on Wednesday.
  • Browns linebacker Sione Takitaki tested positive Wednesday, according to Mary Kay Cabot of cleveland.com (on Twitter). Takitaki played against the Eagles and returned an interception for a touchdown. The Cleveland starting linebacker’s positive test follows Myles Garrett‘s. Neither they nor Denzel Ward (injury) will be available for Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. The Browns closed their facility Wednesday, but their Jags game remains on schedule.
  • The Bengals placed wide receiver Auden Tate and recently acquired offensive lineman B.J. Finney on their reserve/COVID-19 list. Cincinnati has seen staffers test positive, with D-line coach Nick Eason being the most recent. Eason was alerted of his positive test Tuesday. The Bengals now have five players on their reserve/COVID list.
  • Christian Wilkins is off the Dolphins‘ COVID list. Wilkins was not reported to have tested positive, but the second-year defensive lineman still missed two games after landing on the team’s virus list.
  • The Raiders activated Cory Littleton from their COVID list. The high-profile free agent addition has been out for two weeks due to a positive coronavirus test. Las Vegas’ defense remains shorthanded due to virus issues, with Clelin Ferrell testing positive last week and Lamarcus Joyner missing Sunday’s Chiefs game because of his status as a close contact.
  • Dante Fowler also tested positive two weeks ago and missed the Falcons‘ Week 11 game, but the big-ticket free agent addition is off the list now and on course to return to Atlanta’s lineup Sunday.
  • The Vikings and Chargers also removed players from their respective virus lists Wednesday. Minnesota activated guard Dru Samia; Los Angeles activated cornerback Brandon Facyson.

Cory Littleton Lands On Raiders’ Reserve/COVID-19 List

The Raiders continue to run into issues with the coronavirus. They placed top tackler Cory Littleton on their reserve/COVID-19 list Thursday.

An offseason addition, the former Rams linebacker has registered 48 tackles this season. He joins Trent Brown on the Raiders’ COVID list. While Brown is out for Sunday’s game against the Broncos and is without a firm return timetable, Littleton’s status will come down to when he last came in contact with someone who contracted the virus.

The NFL requires players who land on the reserve/COVID list to isolate for five days, even if they did not test positive. This in-season policy change resulted in the Raiders practicing without their first-string offensive line prior to their Week 7 game against the Buccaneers.

While the Titans led the NFL in players placed on a reserve/COVID list, the Raiders have incurred the stiffest punishment for violating coronavirus protocols. The NFL docked the team a sixth-round pick and has levied more than $1MM in fines against the organization this season.

One of the NFL’s top coverage linebackers over the past two seasons, Littleton opted to sign with the Raiders this offseason. Pro Football Focus has not viewed Littleton’s Raiders debut as a success so far, interestingly rating him as one of the league’s worst coverage ‘backers through Las Vegas’ eight games.

Raiders Rework Cory Littleton’s Contract

The Raiders have restructured the contract of linebacker Cory Littleton in order to create more than $8MM in cap space, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (Twitter link). The move will give Las Vegas, who had been projected to be over the cap, some financial breathing room.

Per Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap, the Raiders appeared to have converted $10.09MM of Littleton’s 2020 base salary into a signing bonus while adding two void years to the end of his contract. In sum, Las Vegas reduced Fitzgerald’s 2020 cap charge by $8.072MM but added $2.018MM in each remaining season of his contract.

Restructures nearly always benefit the player in question. Not only does Littleton get more money up front in the form of a new signing bonus, but he’s now more difficult to release in future years. Indeed, many contracts simply have a restructure clause built in, so the team doesn’t even have to ask the player before making the move. However, it’s rare to see a newly-signed player like Littleton get a restructure before he ever plays a down for his new club.

Littleon, 27, spent four years with the Rams before inking a three-year, $35.25MM pact with Las Vegas earlier this year. An exceptional coverage linebacker, Littleton joined Nick Kwiatkoski as new additions to the Raiders’ linebacking unit.

Contract Details: Cooper, Hargrave, Littleton

Jonathan Bostic, (Washington): two-years, $5MM, $1.75MM guaranteed; $1.25MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $960k ($500k guaranteed), 2021: $1.69MM; $500k roster bonus in 2020, $200k in non-guaranteed weekly roster bonuses in 2020, $400k in non-guaranteed weekly roster bonuses in 2021, an additional $800k in annual incentives available as well, according to John Keim of ESPN.

Amari Cooper, (Cowboys): five-years, $100MM deal, $60MM guaranteed; $10MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $10MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $20MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $20MM (guaranteed for injury until March 2022), 2023: $20MM, 2024: $20MM, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL.com.

Tyeler Davison, (Falcons): three-years, $12MM, $4.55MM guaranteed; $3.64MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $910k (fully guaranteed), 2021: $3.2MM, 2022: $3.45MM; $200k in non-guaranteed weekly roster bonuses in 2020, $250k in non-guaranteed weekly roster bonuses in 2021, $350k in non-guaranteed weekly roster bonuses in 2022, according to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.

George Fant, (Jets): three-years, $27.3MM, $8.85MM guaranteed; $3MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $4.6MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $8MM, 2022: $9.25MM; $1.25MM guaranteed roster bonus in 2020, $400k non-guaranteed weekly roster bonuses from 2020-2022, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN.

Javon Hargrave, (Eagles): three-years, $39MM, $26MM guaranteed; $11.75MM signing bonus; salaries 2020: $1MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $12.75MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $12.75MM; $250k workout bonus in 2022, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Cory Littleton, (Raiders): three-years, $35.25MM, $22MM guaranteed; salaries 2020: $11MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $5.5MM (fully guaranteed), 2022: $11MM; guaranteed $5.5MM 2021 roster bonus, non-guaranteed $500k weekly roster bonuses in 2020-2022, $250k workout bonus in 2020-2022, $250k annual Pro Bowl incentive, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Levine Toilolo, (Giants): two-years, $6.2MM, $3.25MM guaranteed; salaries 2020: $1.225MM (fully guaranteed), 2021: $2.925MM; guaranteed $2MM 2020 roster bonus, $25k annual workout bonus, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.