- B.J. Raji
B.J. Raji was once the greatest thing since sliced bread in Green Bay. He was the NFC Championship hero with a pick-six in Chicago.
His famous “booty shake” earned a cameo in A-Rod’s discount double-check commercial.
And just four years later, B.J. Raji was this close to being cut.
Raji tested the free agent market and didn’t seem to get many calls. Whether that’s because of a deep draft class at interior lineman or his lack of production recently, Raji finally realized he should just take the deal on the table.
Raji and the Packers agreed to a one year deal worth $4 million. At just 27 years old, hopes are that Raji isn’t already past his prime. Speaking of lack of production, he hasn’t recorded a sack in two years. He made just 17 tackles playing in all 16 games last season, by far his worst year.B.J. Raji chases down Eli Manning.
Hopefully, a reality check sinks in but this is without a doubt a “prove it” deal. The Pack is giving Raji one more shot to earn back his stardom. Raji will return to his normal position at nose tackle. He’ll definitely have some help with newly acquired Julius Peppers rushing the edge. I’m not sure what it’ll take to get paid a bigger contract, but the big man better hustle. Otherwise, we’ll find ourselves right back here next year.
In the end, it’s a good thing for both sides resigning Raji. Green Bay’s defense ranked 25th in the league last year. That kind of stat is never just one person’s fault. But Raji and the Pack realize they need each other to get better.
Sometimes the grass isn’t greener on the other side. Raji took a peek, but there’s no place like home.
- Mike Neal
After resigning with the Pack on a two year deal for $8 million, Mike Neal announced on Twitter, “Hi Green Bay!!! I’ll enjoy your winters for two more years!!!Mike Neal sacks division rival Jay Cutler.
Yet another cautious deal keeps the strong links of a weak defense together in Green Bay. Neal was one of the few bright spots last year totaling 36 tackles, 5 sacks, an interception and forced fumble. It was his best year, but also his first complete year playing in all 16 games.
As an asset to Dom Capers’ 3-4 defense, Neal can play defensive end and/or outside linebacker. Essentially, he was resigned more for curiosity than performance. The coaches want to see how good he can be at just 26 years old. He fits nicely with a strong ability to stop the run and pressure qbs. Perhaps the never-ending search for a rusher opposite Clay Matthews is right under our nose.
Still, this is another “prove it” deal having only two years to solidify his worth. Unless Neal can consistently make plays, these next two winters will be his last in Green Bay.