Packers NT B.J. Raji plans to retire after 7 seasons with the team. (First reported by the Green Bay Press-Gazette) pic.twitter.com/4Iu3I5trKF
— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) March 14, 2016
Via a statement on Monday, Raji referred to his retirement decision as a “hiatus” while adding he wouldn’t rule out a future return to the NFL. San Francisco 49ers offensive tackle Anthony Davis offered a similar sentiment a year ago upon deciding to retire, and he reportedly will apply for reinstatement with the intent to play next season.
Raji has played his entire seven-year career with the Packers, and he had some reported interest from them as well as the Carolina Panthers over the first week of the new league year. After being drafted ninth overall in 2009, registering 6.5 sacks in 2010 and earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2011, Raji looked like a budding star. But lingering injuries have become a concern in recent years, even though Raji has only missed a total of three games over the last three seasons. As much as anything, the desire to get completely healthy explains Raji’s seemingly short-term decision to quit football.
A pass-heavy league has diminished Raji’s role as a primary run stuffer (just 41.6 percent of Green Bay’s defensive snaps last season), but he could add value to multiple teams if he returns after a one-year break. If he can get right physically, while recapturing the pass rushing prowess from his second season, Raji’s “second act” in the NFL has a chance to be a solid one.