Cory’s Corner: B.J. Raji signing proves the Packers are committed

B.J. Raji’s fan club has probably taken a hit in membership the last few years. Let’s face it, he hasn’t shown much since 2012.

And ironically enough, that was because he was playing his natural position of nose tackle. In 2013 he became an example of what Clay Matthews was this past year — showing the rest of the Packers what a team player truly is — by playing defensive end.

After turning down over $8 million a year from the Packers, he signed a one-year prove-it deal worth $4 million before last season.

Then everything derailed for the 28-year-old. He tore his biceps and was done for the season. Usually professional athletes sign a one-year deal before either diving headfirst into big money or exiting stage left into retirement.

Raji just did the unusual by signing his second consecutive prove-it deal, which is one year for $3.5 million. And I haven’t always been the biggest believer of Raji, but I like this move. It not only strengthens the defensive line with a veteran player that won a championship but it will give much-needed help to the inside linebackers and help in stopping the run. The middle linebackers, which is why there is only one currently on the roster, and the run defense, ranked 23rd in the NFL, was the team’s kryptonite last year.

Even though Raji was the ninth overall pick only six years ago, he knows that this might be the end of the line. And that’s why I like this move. The Packers need a motivated and ready Raji to clog up the middle and force long third downs.

The Packers also need Raji to be a vocal veteran presence for newly signed nose tackle Letroy Guion, who received a one-year deal worth $2.75 million. Pictures of the 357 grams of marijuana, stacks of $190,000 in cash and a handgun went viral following Guion’s Feb. 3 arrest.

In order for Raji to help this team reach another Super Bowl, he has to cultivate Guion’s behavior. Raji will be judged by how he does on the field this season, but he can have an even bigger impact in the standings by making sure the 27-year-old Guion understands how many chances he has left.

And Raji should understand that very well. He is in his second turn riding the one-year deal carousel. He doesn’t know when the ride is going to stop, but general manager Ted Thompson sees something in him to keep the music playing.

Raji also helps out Thompson on draft day. Thompson doesn’t reach for need-based picks anyway, but now you can bet that he’s going to be more focused on bringing in some bodies that can play inside linebacker.

Bringing Raji back also tells the rest of the team that the Packers’ front office is committed to winning now. It tells them that they weren’t satisfied with getting unproven rookies to make an impact on defense. They want people who know how to win and can lay out the blueprint for others to follow.



Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn


24 thoughts on “Cory’s Corner: B.J. Raji signing proves the Packers are committed

  1. Bringing Raji back along with Guion is a good move but let us not read too much into nor bet the house on it.

    The NFL has had many a guy who was assumed to be on prove it deals and expected a ‘committed,vocal leader to show the way for another;Guion and others in this scenario.

    It would be nice to see if he himself has acquired these facets which appear to be a dependent need for the teams success by the measures of many.

    Sure,he looked better in preseason before the injury but what assurance was there that that same would transpire season long when coming off 3 years of virtual crap or that Guion will prevail to garner the same of himself again…since this a Viking castoff who’s play was a big factor in why and many felt he wouldn’t make the team other than for not having anyone else at the time.

    I will keep faith and hope alive until and unless he fails to display this early and consistently on the field at camps onset and a reason why I feel that a NT still in the first two rds isn’t out of the question regardless of how flexibility seems to have grown for others. 🙂

      1. To the sane: Besides the re-signings, the team is expecting the second year jump from Pennel, Robinson, and Thornton. Daniels is in a contract year and Datone admitted last December he’ll be in a make or break year. Boyd has shown some flashes. We’ll have to wait and see what PS player Bruce Gaston (310 lbs)has to offer. IIRC, TT usually brings 10-11 DL to camp so w/ 9 on the roster the depth is not as weak as some think.

        1. Because I believe Guion & Raji are mediocre at best? You think they are better than mediocre? What have you been watching? Certainly not GBP DL play.

          1. Archie – if the $2.75 for Guion and the $3.5 for Raji are guaranteed amounts, then I owe you an apology for my earlier post. My earlier post was based on early reports from and Milwaukee sentinel that Guion was $1.3 guaranteed and Raji, $1.9 guaranteed, both contracts with incentives. However, if in fact the higher figures are correct then I agree with your original post that TT overpaid for both. The lower figures would be good signings, but the higher salaries are questionable (at least), unless both of these guys play way over their previous performance levels in 2015. Thanks, Since ’61

            1. No problem ’61, we all rely on the numbers we happen to read. My last comment on these two contracts is that for the combined price, TT should have been able to bring a top notch NT into the fold. I don’t remember what OAK paid Dan Williams but that was the move I would have made.

              1. Archie – I agree, Dan Williams would have been a great pick up but he signed with Oakland for 4 yrs, $25MM, with $15MM guaranteed. This is interesting because if you combine Raji’s and Guion’s salary for 2015 it comes out to $6.25MM which is the same as Williams if you divide the $25MM by 4 seasons. For all we know TT spoke with Williams or his agent but did not want to commit to a 4 yr deal or to $15MM guarantee. But at $6.25MM per year Williams is a better player than Raji and Guion combined. Would love to know if TT even tried for Williams. Thanks, Since ’61

          2. Archie, I was addressing the larger aspect of you being the definition of nattering nabob of negativity.

            The TT/MM tenure is 101-55-1, a .640 winning percentage which equates to almost 2 wins for every loss. They’ve been to 6 straight playoffs matching the great Bill Belicheck and have won a record 4 straight divisional titles. In the whole Favre/Wolf tenure they won 1 SB same as the Rodgers/TT tenure which isn’t finished yet. No team is perfect and I have my issues w/ both TT and MM. But overall, they do a helluva job to keep the team in playoff contention each year. You can’t win the SB if you don’t make the playoffs.

            Put on your GM hat (I’m picturing a helicopter beanie). You have $21.3M. You need almost $6M for rookie salaries ( so you now have $15.5M. You probably want to save $5-10M to sign your own FA’s like Kuhn and Bush, UFA’s, street FA’s, or vets cut after the draft, on June 1st, during training camp or the preseason. Plus you may want to make a trade ala Ryan Grant, sign an in season pickup or a player like Mike Daniels to an extension. This brings you down to $5.5-10.5M.

            So instead of signing Raji and Guion who do you sign to address defensive needs? Don’t forget any UFA’s you sign will most likely affect the current projected 2016 compensation of two 4th round picks for losing Davon and Tramon ( Have at it!!!

            1. Every year there’s a misconception about the rookie salary pool and the actual effect on the salary cap. GB’s pool # is $5.348 (assuming no changes in its draft order and before compensatory 6th rd. picks are added in – probably about $6.2 mill). The effective cap charge should be around $1.433 (I have $2.35 using another rule of thumb) during the summer under the rule of 51 and maybe double that when the season starts. See Overthecap’s 3/26/15 explanation using the link:


              1. Thanks Reynoldo, this gives Archie an extra $3M to play with…let the helicopter beanie spinning begin.

  2. Cory, Packers already has 4 ILBs on the roster: Sam Barrington, Carl Bradford, Josh Francis & Joe Thomas. Some will say even 5 of them, because there is the rumor that Nate Palmer was preparing to take ILB position next year. So, please, stop talking that Packers has only one ILB on the roster, because it is not truth!

    1. Croat – I think that Cory is saying that the Packers have only one ILB who has played the position in an actual NFL game. Bradford, Francis and Thomas have yet to play a down in an actual NFL game and Palmer appeared in a few games at OLB in 2013 and was IR for 2014 so he is basically an untried and untested rookie. Just because these guys are on the roster doesn’t mean that any of them can actually play in the NFL. They may not even make the team when they get to training camp. IMO TT should sign a veteran ILB for depth and draft 2 maybe 3 ILBs if they are BAPs. Otherwise, I see CM3 spending a lot of time at ILB in 2015 which is OK but that diminishes our outside pass rush. The middle of the defense at NT and ILB remains the weakest part of the team. Even with Raji and Guion back I’m not yet confident that we have improved the middle of the defense. Thanks, Since ’61

      1. Since ’61, you know that I really respect your knowledge and your thoughts about players and game. I supposed Cory mentioning only the one who actually played the position for Packers. But somehow, I learned during this short time I’m following Packers, Packers always have the plan. For each and every position. And not only one plan. There is A, B, C plans for each and every player, not only for the position.
        This ILB madness should be finished soon. I think Packers will take at least one ILB through draft and I read that Packers are really high on Joe Thomas and Carl Bradford…
        Anyhow, I think that reporter should be more precise… To avoid confusion. Also, lot of you guys that comment here knows a lot about football & Packers, so those guys who write for this page is little to relaxed…

        1. Croat – I appreciate your comments and I will add that for someone relatively new to following the NFL your posts are very astute. Yes, you are correct that the Packers have a plan for every position and every player. Those plans are like game plans or even play calls in that the players need to go on the field and execute the plans or the plays. I tend to place a high value on actual game experience because things happen so fast at the professional level it takes time for an inexperienced player to be able to read and respond to what is actually happening on the field. At ILB the Packers have Barrington who has appeared in 21 NFL games but has only started 7 games. He is their most experienced ILB as of today unless we add CM3 into the mix. It is for this reason that I would like to see the Packers sign an FA ILB in addition to drafting 1 or 2 during the upcoming draft. If we look at Safety last year we had Burnett with 4 years of experience and Hyde with 1. We drafted Dix and he proved to be worthy of his first round status and together with Burnett and Hyde they made the plan for that position group work. At ILB, the Packers are no doubt working on their board for the draft but remember the players they are targeting may be gone by the time they pick. On the flip side the Packers have re-signed Guion and Raji which gives them some good experience at NT. If they play well, they can help the ILBs to make plays by holding the point of attack in the middle. So the re-signing of Raii and Guion is actually the beginning of the plan to improve the ILBs. We will have a better sense of the ILB plan once we get through the draft, maybe sooner if TT signs a FA ILB. Thanks, Since ’61

  3. 3.5million doughnuts for B.J. Blob to prove what? That any average O-lineman can push his fat azz wherever they want. Tell the Packers ILB’s to get used to seeing a big black fat azz coming their way every down Raji is in…
    Sick of the “he’s not in his natural position”, b.s. Matthews wasn’t in his natural position last year and seemed to do just fine. Your either a football player or your not. The “natural” position for B.J. slobby is belly up to the buffet, that’s where he excels. Not so much on the football field. Don’t get me wrong I like B.J., but his future is on Dancing With The Stars not with the Packers…

  4. When considering Raji, you and other authors often mention the word motivation. A permissible inference is that Raji played poorly in 2013 not entirely because he was playing out of position but because he was unhappy there, or that at heart Raji does not love football. I think Raji has immense talent, but I would never give him big guaranteed money. The need therefore to draft a NT has been kicked down the road by a year with the signings of Raji and Guion, but TT should look at the draft in 2016 to see if there will be any NTs available; otherwise, he needs to consider a NT this year day one or two.

  5. I’m curious to see how Vince Wilfork performs this year. He signed on the open market for about what Raji did. I know Raji is younger, but the last time I saw Raji on a football field, he was being pushed around like a rag doll. For what ever reason it was,Raji just didn’t perform. One the other hand, Wilfork last year played much better than Raji did the last time i watched Raji play. Signing Wilfork to a one year deal seemed to make more sense to me then signing Rajis non-performing/ healing bicep ass. I not sure if Wilfork would cost a pick, but i think he would have. Still, it may have been worth it if the middle of our D was shored up.

    let’s hope for the best with Raji

    1. Wilfork would have counted in the compensatory pick formula, I think. Did some research on this, but there seems to be no written policy. Articles point out that other players whose options were not picked up – like Wilfork – counted against comp pick formula. Wilfork got 2 yr. $10 mill, $5 mill guaranteed. But, his 2015 cap was $3.5 million and consisted of all guaranteed money. His 2016 cap will be $5.5 mill, but he will have only $1.5 mill left in guaranteed money i.e. dead money. Very team friendly terms. Essentially could be a 1 yr. $3.5 to $5 mill deal (depending on how you look at it) with an option for a 2nd yr. if he works out. Wilfork was still a top run stuffing NT. Rush has lessened.

  6. Lets hope Guion is smart enough to put a bag over Raji’s head and duct tape his mouth shut. you have absolutely no basis for claiming raji’s more natural position is NT, he sucked there. He was not moved to end help the team or to strengthen that position. He was moved because he was bad and the hope was he MIGHT be able to play where there were far fewer double teams. He was not. He was lazy, he was the opposite of hustle. In his last three playing years Raji has worse stats total than Guion in one year. lets hope Raji shuts up and learns from him.

  7. TT has a history of sucking when it comes to the defense. I hope pot head/suspension Guion and lazy /bad arm blubber Raji are the answer, for 2015 season, over the other FA NT/ D-lineman that were available on the market. For the money that Teddy paid for these 2 question marks, we could have had a quality DL. Time will only tell if TT blundered another opportunity to put the Packers in the SB, or if he’s making the right moves.

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