Even though the Green Bay Packers were able to lock up superstars Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews long term, they are far from being done with signing other stars for the long haul. Nose tackle B.J. Raji, wide receiver James Jones and cornerback Sam Shields are just three examples of players that need to be in Green Bay’s plans. They also happen to be three players that will be free agents after the 2013 NFL season.
Raji is the anchor of a talented defense that is filled with a load of potential. If the Packers could ever get another pass rusher or two to go along with Matthews, the defense would be in business once again. The outside pass rushing ability would also free Raji up to go after the quarterback, opposed to getting double teamed on a majority of downs.
There is no question Raji is a critical piece to the puzzle, and the good news is he wants to stay in Green for the entirety of his career.
“Green Bay gave me my first opportunity, my first shot at this thing,” Raji said, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “Obviously I’ve had a great run here. I love the people here. It’s a great organization, it’s a great city for football. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
In his fourth year in the league, Raji posted 26 combined tackles, two passes defended and two stuffs in 14 games. It was what many considered to be his worst statistical season, especially since he was unable to register at least one sack. With that being said, injuries around Raji certainly did not help his cause, as offenses knew Matthews and he were two players that had to be counted for on every single snap.
Raji will make $4.49 million in the final season of his rookie contract. However, one has to wonder how much more the Packers must give him a year for him to stay in Green Bay.
Vince Wilfork, who is considered one of the best nose tackles in the game, currently has two years left on his five-year, $40 million contract. Even though he is five years older than Raji, his production is leaps and bounds better. There is no way Raji will get $8 million per season unless he goes beast mode this season. That has to be music to the ears of Packers fans considering the defense cannot afford to lose someone of Raji’s talent.
Hopefully, Raji will have a productive season in 2013, and everything else will take care of itself in the offseason.