1:27pm: As Wood details at PackersNews.com, Raji has issued a full statement explaining his decision and suggesting that his retirement may not be permanent. The defensive tackle’s statement reads, in part:
“I am taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 NFL season. This decision was made after hours of conversation with close family members and mentors and considerable self-introspection and is one in which I am absolutely certain. I cannot rule out a return to the NFL in the future, but I will definitely not be playing during the 2016 season.”
1:05pm: Longtime Packers defensive tackle B.J. Raji, who is a free agent this offseason, won’t be signing with a new team anytime soon. According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette (via Twitter), Raji intends to retire from the NFL, ending his playing career.
Raji, 29, was selected ninth overall by the Packers in the 2009 draft, and has been with the team for seven seasons since then. With 91 regular season games (78 starts) on his career resume, Raji was a significant piece of the Packers’ defensive line for the last several seasons. His best years came in 2010 – when he recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks – and 2011, when he earned his first and only Pro Bowl nod.
Raji tells Wood (Twitter link) that he’s turning down a “very, very nice deal” from the Packers, as well as interest from multiple playoff teams, so his decision certainly doesn’t seem to be based on a lack of opportunities. Raji, who missed the entire 2014 campaign with a torn biceps, has had some injury issues in recent years, so it’s possible those are playing a part in his decision.
While Raji is moving on, the Packers did re-sign Letroy Guion to help stabilize the interior of their defensive line. The team typically isn’t active early on in the free agent period, but defensive tackle is a spot where Green Bay could target depth additions later on in free agency, or in the draft.
The Panthers had been among the other teams rumored to be interested in Raji.
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