B.J. Raji was slated to be the Packers rock in the middle of their defense before he was injured. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images photograph

Green Bay Packers Offseason Outlook: B.J. Raji

The Packers will let B.J. Raji play out his rookie contract and move toward free agency. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The Packers will let B.J. Raji play out his rookie contract and move toward free agency.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

The 2013 NFL and Green Bay Packers season is far from over.

However, it is never too early to ponder what the Green Bay Packers may do in the upcoming offseason. Poor play on both sides of the ball has a faithful and passionate fan base calling for drastic changes.

Be sure, change will come.

The remaining weeks of the season could very well serve as a job interview for many on the Packers roster.

As one who has always been conservative with his wallet, Ted Thompson will have some important decisions to make with many key Green Bay players becoming Free Agents.

One player of great importance and our first player of focus in Offseason Outlook is B.J. Raji. Raji, a top 10 pick in 2009, has been an essential presence in the Green Bay defensive line since his arrival. His production, on the other hand, has not always been consistent. Some believe that Raji could be on his way out of Green Bay. This thought should be put to rest by rumors that the Packers have offered the player a deal that would pay in the ballpark of $8 million per year. It is unclear whether Raji has declined the offer or is simply intent on delaying contract negotiations until after the season.

While he has been criticized for inconsistency, Raji remains a crucial cog in the Packers defensive line. A line that looked quite good through the first half of the season. Confusing, though, is the reduced role for Raji. Some are critical of Dom Capers choice to limit Raji’s snaps, since this certainly cuts down on a physical presence on the line. Capers seems to prefer quicker, more agile pass rushers in any scenario that allows for them. One might wonder if Raji may feel underutilized.

Still, many experts believe that Raji holds more value to the Packers than he will hold on the open market. Eight million is a handsome paycheck no matter how you shake it – an amount that I believe that Raji will eventually accept.

The truth is that the Packers need Raji and his 6-2, 330-pound body in the trenches of our defense. The alternatives are, well, sparse. They are certainly not currently on the roster. Josh Boyd? I think not. The

B.J. Raji must decide whether to accept the Packers contract offer or move on to free agency. Raymond T. Rivard photograph

B.J. Raji must decide whether to accept the Packers contract offer or move on to free agency.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Packers could choose to draft a replacement. Notre Dame’s Louis Nix comes to mind. However, the falloff after Nix at the position is notable and I do not expect Thompson to want to rely on a rookie to take over for Raji’s responsibilities.

Green bay has made their intentions clear.

They want him back.

I consider Raji essential and believe he provides the continuity required to build a stiff defensive unit. The price should prove to be right. Expect number 90 back in Green and Gold next year. The contract signing might be off in the distance, but be surprised if the big man anchors for any other team in 2014.

Keep your eye on this guy in the final weeks of the season as he plays for his coming contract.

What about you? Do you view Raji as essential to future success in Green Bay?

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Tags: B.J. Raji Free Agency Green Bay Packers

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