The Green Bay Packers are known for locking up their star players – rewarding from within – and building the team around them … just take a look at Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, and Jordy Nelson. But what about B.J. Raji.
The big guy is hoping for huge money and has an $8 million offer on the table from the team – an offer on which he is sitting.
In a story published yesterday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Bob McGinn lays out the specifics surrounding the offer, saying that Raji may be waiting to use free agency as leverage, but also explains that with the newest collective bargaining agreement, the dollars have tended to favor the teams, not the players.
Because of the CBA, the salary cap has been and will continue to be stagnant, meaning that big paydays are a thing of the past for those players playing the system. The money just isn’t there for most teams to be throwing around – and that includes the Green Bay Packers.
McGinn also talked to personnel men from around the league about Raji’s offer and one of them had this to say about whether Raji should sign: “Damn right he should. For $8 million he should be signing. Who is his agent?”
With the Packers facing a mountain of free agents (16) next year, with half of them being starters, the team is going to have to make some difficult decisions. In addition to Raji, the team is also trying to re-sign, among others, cornerback Sam Shields – a player who has performed to a higher level than has Raji in their contract seasons.
And while Raji’s numbers may not reflect superstar status, he is a consummate team player … the fact that he doesn’t have gaudy statistics is reflective of the way the Packers use him. In the Super Bowl season of 2010, Raji’s numbers were impressive and he seemed to be in the opponent’s backfield more often than not. Heck, he even had the game-turning pick-six against the Chicago Bears in the NFC Championship game.
So what’s happened since?
Well, his time on the field has dropped significantly the past two years to an all-time low this season. Part of that is because Head Coach Mike McCarthy is fearful of Raji’s longevity should they use them too much. Another part of it is that Raji has been moved out of the nose position and has had to compete with the likes of Mike Daniels and rookie Datone Jones for playing time – both young players with huge upsides.
And Raji is OK with that.
Here’s how McGinn quoted Raji about how he is played: “I look at those numbers. It’s not a coincidence that my best statistical year was when I was a nose. Right now, on first and second down, we’re asked to grab guards. Dom (Capers) likes his linebackers clean. That’s my job right now.”
But time is running out for Raji. If he continues to sit on the offer, it may be gone before he knows it and he will be out competing in a soft free agent market where the dollars he might realize will be in the $6 to $7 million range.
So, that’s the decision with which he’s juggling and one for which he is responsible in making the ultimate choice.
The Packers want Raji. They would not have put the offer on the table if they didn’t. The real question is whether Raji wants to play for the Packers -the only team for which he’s been a member. Does he feel jilted because he wasn’t signed during the hoopla that surrounded the huge paydays of Rodgers and Matthews?
We doubt it. He’s a professional and understands all that kind of stuff.
As a player, we here at lombardiave feel Raji is solid. He’s durable, continues to produce, and seems to be a smart, articulate and caring individual who is active in the community.
Losing him would be a blow to the team. But it’s Raji who must make the final decision.
Take the money, B.J. We would love to continue to see your finger-wagging for years to come.