The biggest knock on Little throughout his three years in the NFL has been that he has never lived up to what was believed to be his potential. His numbers have gone down every season since 2011. He reeled in just 41 of 99 targets in 2013.
Little has, by some, been compared to former Cleveland WR Braylon Edwards in that both have reputations for not being able to catch and hold onto the football. Dropped passes do not make for a stat that is recognized by the NFL. One reason for this is that it isn't always the fault of a wide receiver when he is unable to catch a ball thrown his way. Quarterbacks don't always toss perfect passes, and defensive backs make plays and prevent receptions from being completed.
That said, you haven't been paying attention or you're in denial if you're unaware of Little's bouts with the dropsies.
There were, at the conclusion of the 2013 NFL regular season, multiple local and national reports claiming that the Browns were set to part ways with Little this offseason. Then came this past Tuesday, when owner Jimmy Haslam blew up the team's front office. It's now believed that current Cleveland general manager Ray Farmer could be interested in giving Little one final season.
The Browns are likely to upgrade the wide receiver position this spring, potentially with the 26th overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Kelvin Benjamin from Florida State could be an option. Benjamin, listed at 6-5 and 234 pounds, had 54 catches, 1,011 receiving yards and 15 touchdowns in 2013. He is, after Clemson's Sammy Watkins, perceived to be the best red zone option in the draft, and some have suggested that he could develop into a solid No. 2 wide receiver on a NFL depth chart.
Most of the mock drafts that I've been studying since the fall believe that Allen Robinson out of Penn State could also fall to the Browns. The 6-3 Robinson went for 97 catches and 1,432 receiving yards in his final collegiate season, and his ability to go after and hold onto the football and to obtain yards after the catch has some scouts believing that Robinson could be the ideal weapon to line up alongside current Cleveland wide receiver Josh Gordon, who had a breakout 2013 season.
Even if the Browns do take a wide receiver in the first round, the team cutting Little before at least the summer makes little sense. His 2014 cap hit is shy of $1.1 million. That's nothing for a team that currently has a boatload of cap space.
It must also be noted that Little is about to play out the final season of his rookie deal. 2014 will, financially speaking, be the biggest year of Little's career. New York Giants wide receiver Hakeem Nicks flopped in his contract year last season, and it's going to cost him millions upon millions of dollars this offseason.
Little won't want to suffer the same fate a year from now.
There is no reason for the Browns to not keep Little on the roster, drop him down the depth chart beneath a rookie, and see if he can earn his way back into the lineup. At worst, Little has one more disappointing season before he and the franchise go their separate ways. At best, Little produces at least decent numbers as a No. 3 WR, and he does so at a relatively cheap price.
Give Little at least one final summer training camp, Cleveland, before you permanently label him a bust.
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