Carl Nassib and Cory Littleton were the two of the Raiders’ big-ticket free acquisitions in the offseason, and neither has approached the level of production both they and the club had expected.
They’ve got three games to get it right heading in to Thursday night ”s AFC West game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Allegiant Stadium.
With defensive end Clelin Ferrell (shoulder) and linebacker Nicholas Morrow (concussion) both inactive, Nassib will have bigger roles on a defense that will be led for the first time by interim coordinator Rod Marinelli. Marinelli took over the Raiders’ defense when Paul Guenther was fired Sunday night following a 44-27 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
Other inactive Raiders are safety Johnathan Abram (concussion), cornerback Damon Arnette (concussion), tackle Brandon Parker, quarterback Nathan Peterman and cornerback Nevin Lawson.
Lawson, a likely starter for Arnette, is out because of an illness.
Nassib, who played as a 3-4 outside linebacker with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, signed with the Raiders because they offered him three years worth a maximum of $ 25 million and more than $ 16 guaranteed, but also so he could play with his hand in the dirt as a 4-3 end. The result has been 1 1/2 sacks and his playing time in terms of snaps wasn’t what you’d expect of a big investment.
In the last two games, it got even worse. Nassib was simply inactive as a healthy scratch. That changes with the absence to Ferrell.
Littleton signed a three-year deal worth a maximum of $ 35.25 million with $ 22 million in guarantees. Considered one of the NFL’s better linebackers in pass coverage with the Los Angeles Rams, Littleton struggled in that area and also with his tackling although he was playing virtually every snap. When Littleton tested positive for COVID-19 and missed two games, Morrow played so well in a full-time role retained the position. Littleton, in the three games since his returned, has played in 58, 55 and 54 percent of the snaps in his last three games while his special teams role has increased.
With Lawson joining Arnette on the sidelines, the following corners are available along with starter Travvon Mullen: Daryl Worley, Isaiah Johnson, Amik Robertson and Keisean Nixon. Rashaan Gaulden, called up from the practice squad, has been primarily a safety but has also played cornerback. Gaulden is a former third-round draft pick by Carolina in 2018 out of Tennessee who also spent time last year with the New York Giants. He was signed to the Raiders’ practice squad on Nov. 9.
Given the size of the contracts Nassib and Littleton signed, they’ll still be on the roster in 2021. The Raiders would be on the hook for significant acceleration against what is expected to be a smaller salary cap because of the COVID-19 pandemic should either be traded or released.
Also unavailable for the Raiders are rookie wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (COVID-19 reserve list) and safety Jeff Heath (injured reserve).
The Raiders will also be without offensive coordinator Greg Olson, who will miss the game for COVID-19 related reasons, the club announced. Olson does much of the in-game work with quarterback Derek Carr in between series, with coach Jon Gruden as the play-caller. Olson’s responsibilities will be handled by the offensive staff, with senior assistant John Morton likely having an increased role.
Also activated from the practice squad was linebacker Javin White, an undrafted rookie from Oakland’s McClymonds High and Nevada-Las Vegas.