The Green Bay Packers have seen a pair of their free agent players depart over the past few days. After Scott Tolzien signed with the Indianapolis Colts on Friday, cornerback Casey Hayward left for the San Diego Chargers on Sunday. Those two are the only 2015 Packers to have departed so far, however.
One player whose return is questionable is nose tackle B.J. Raji, who spent each of the past two seasons in Green Bay on one-year deals. However, we have a report that suggests that Ted Thompson is indeed actively trying to re-sign Raji for a third straight offseason:
Source said #Packers are in the mix for Raji along with a few other teams.— Packer Report (@PackerReport) March 14, 2016
Raji earned $4 million while on injured reserve in 2014 and just under $2.75 million a year ago. The seven-year veteran is turning 30 in July, however, and will likely try to cash in with a multi-year contract this spring to ensure some semblance of stability over the next few years.
The money would have to make sense for the Packers if Raji is to return, however. Prior to the start of free agency, Green Bay re-signed Letroy Guion to a three-year contract, and they have $10 million per year being paid to Mike Daniels on his new deal from December. Locking up Raji for the long term would solidify the starting positions on the line, but could prevent young players like Mike Pennel or Christian Ringo from earning more playing time, which could slow their development. However, Pennel is suspended for the first few games of the 2016 season, and without Raji that would force Guion back into the starting role on the nose.
Still, our bet is that based on his play in 2015, Raji is in line for a two or three-year deal, with two years being more likely, and an average annual value somewhere around the $3 million mark with some production incentives. At that price, the Packers could afford to bring him back.
According to ESPN's David Newton, the Carolina Panthers are one of the other teams interested in Raji's services. Carolina does not need a starter at defensive tackle, thanks to the recent draft selections of Star Lotulelei and Kawann Short, but Newton notes that they do employ a heavy rotation and neither of their backups from 2015 are under contract for 2016.
UPDATE: Raji is taking a hiatus from the NFL for at least the 2016 season, a move he announced in a statement published through the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Monday afternoon. Click here for our full post on this report.