Defensive tackle B.J. Raji called it a hiatus when he stepped away from football last week.
We called it a retirement.
Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy is with Raji on this one, though. He thinks Raji can and will return to football.
“I think he’ll play again,” McCarthy said. “But it would have to be at the right time. He needs to go through this process of his life. But he’s also open to other challenges and opportunities out there. But this is purely a family-focused decision.”
On the day he stepped away, Raji talked about the decision being about family. We have since found out there are health issues among those close to him.
Although there wasn’t much interest in Raji’s services for the third consecutive season in free agency, he did have an offer from the Packers. Because of course he did.
Raji will be 30 in July. That makes him 31 before the 2017 season, which is presumably the next time he’ll consider playing.
Such a return isn’t unprecedented, we just find it highly unlikely.
Forget for a moment that Raji hasn’t been productive since 2011. The Packers, who were seemingly the only team in the league interested in having this guy play ball for them, will surely have to add a defensive lineman through draft this year. They’ll probably look to address that position early, especially considering defensive end Mike Pennel is suspended for the first four games.
Simple roster-building logic tells you Raji’s replacement in Green Bay will be identified this year. So with a defensive line of Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Mike Pennel, new guy and one or two young, developmental types, that doesn’t leave a lot of room for the return of Raji.
We think what McCarthy is suggesting here is that Raji will play again, just not in Green Bay.
What we’re suggesting is Raji may want to play again, but we have our doubts another team is going to welcome him back to the NFL. If other teams were that interested, they might have offered Raji a deal in any of the past three offseasons.
At 31 and after a year of not playing football, Raji isn’t going to be more attractive to potential suitors.