Packers Will Gamble with B.J. Raji
Roll the dice! That’s what Gamblin’ Ted and the Green Bay Packers are going to do with B.J. Raji. Ian Rapoport reports the Packers will not extend Raji and instead make him play out the final year of his rookie deal.
From Total Access: After early talks, #Packers plan to make DT BJ Raji play out the final year of his deal to earn a big, long-term payday
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 3, 2013
So the Packers are going to make Raji, who’s coming off a fairly lackluster 2012 season, earn that big contract. That’s exactly the uncomfortable part of that statement though. Big, long-term payday.
The Packers already gave Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews a couple big, long-term paydays. Those deals are relatively cap friendly, but you have to wonder how many more big, long-term paydays the team can absorb.
Raji will make more than $6 million this season between a $4.49 million base salary and $1.625 million in bonuses. His average salary over his rookie deal was $5.4 million. Right now, Raji could probably command around $8 million per season.
If he has a huge 2013, that number goes up to $10 million or more annually.
If that’s the case, it leaves the Packers with two options.
1. Let Raji walk.
2. Give Raji that money and cut it out elsewhere.
Want some prime candidates to get dumped if the Packers have to pay Raji $10 million or more annually?
I’d LOVE to say A.J. Hawk, but if the Packers get rid of him next season, they’re still stuck with $3.2 million in dead money even after restructuring his deal this offseason. The actual savings from releasing Hawk before next season would only be around $1 million.
At the top of the list is Ryan Pickett. This is the final year of Pickett’s deal — one that will pay him more than $6 million this season. Although he was the Packers best defensive lineman in 2012, Pickett will be 34 this season and you know how Gamblin’ Ted feels about old guys.
See: Charles Woodson, Cullen Jenkins.
The Packers should be well stocked on the defensive line as well. You and they should expect Jerel Worthy to step into a starting role and live up to his potential by his third season. Add him to Mike Daniels, C.J. Wilson, Datone Jones, Mike Neal, etc. and it looks like the writing is on the wall for Pickett.
Second on the list is Tramon Williams. Cornerback is a position the Packers are set at with or without Williams. In 2014 — the final year of his deal — Williams is set to earn $6.9 million. Releasing Williams will cost the team $2 million in dead money, but it will also free up more than $5 million in cap space.
So there. We just did the work for you, Ted. You’re welcome.