The Green Bay Packers had a dilemma coming off the 2013 season. Their starting defensive end recorded only 17 combined tackles in a 16 game season with zero explosive plays. He had become a place-holder rather than a play-maker.
What does that translate to in terms of a new contract, if anything?
If you were the Green Bay Packers would you consider that player’s body of work over 5 seasons? Would you admit that he was essentially playing out of position and promise a position move? Finally would you reward the player with a new one-year $4M prove-it contract? They did.
It didn’t work.
Prior to the start of the season he tears a biceps tendon and doesn’t play a defensive snap all year long.
Such is the case with former Packers NT B.J. Raji.
Fast forward to 2015 and the Packers have another, albeit much smaller, dilemma. Raji is again an unrestricted free agent and with almost a week into the signing period he remains unsigned.
The Packers have expressed an interest in Raji but are in no hurry to make an offer preferring to let the market dictate the interest in their former defensive lineman.
The career of the former first round pick from the Boston College alum began in 2009 and peaked in 2010. It was during the Packers amazing run to the Super Bowl that Raji’s star was on the rise. He posted career best stats while playing in 16 games with 29 tackles at his preferred nose tackle position. And what Packers fan doesn’t recall the famous pick-6 of a Jay Cutler pass and the ensuing Raji-Dance to cap off the NFC Conference Championship game over the rival Chicago Bears? Since 2010 it has been a disappointing down-hill ride for the mercurial Raji.
Where does that leave B.J. Raji going into week 2 of free agency?
If you are an athletic 6’ 2”, 337 lbs. nose tackle and only 28 years old, surely there will be opportunities.
The latest buzz for Raji, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, is that he is weighing multiple offers in deciding where he will play next season. He wants to return to Green Bay but that’s not a sure thing. No teams are specifically mentioned other than the Packers as a possible suitor.
This may very well be agent-speak in an attempt to draw interest to his client. However, with teams like the cash-rich Jacksonville Jaguars throwing big-money at mediocre talent, you never know.
I would guess Raji returns to the Packers on a one-year contract at about $1.5M including guaranteed money of less than $300,000 and much of the contract tied to game-day-active roster bonuses in the $50,000/game range. With other incentives mixed in, the Packers will guard against injury or poor play and reward Raji should he become a force once again.
For Raji and his agent there is an urgency to get something done sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile time remains on the side of the Packers and they can afford to be patient.——————
Jeff Albrecht grew up just north of Green Bay and was lucky enough to attend some of the Lombardi Era classic games, like the 1962 championship and the Ice Bowl. Jeff went on to play HS football in the Green Bay area and College ball at UW - Stevens Point. Jeff is retired but still does some writing for his local paper. Jeff is a writer with AllGreenBayPackers.com and you can follow him on twitter at @pointerjeff .