While the Green Bay Packers have yet to start negotiations with defensive tackle B.J. Raji, his teammate on the defensive line, Letroy Guion, re-signed Friday.
The contract is worth $11.25 million over the next three years, according to ESPN. Guion reportedly also could be paid an additional $500,000 in incentives. Key to the overall value of the contract will be Guion’s signing bonus and any guaranteed money.
Guion did not receive a signing bonus with the one-year deal he signed before the 2015 season.
In a text Friday morning, Raji told USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin his teammate’s deal was “well deserved.” Asked how the contract affects his future with the Packers, Raji texted “uncertain at this point.” Raji has “not yet” started negotiations with the team, he texted.
Early in the free-agency process, general manager Ted Thompson has focused on retaining the Packers' defensive line. Thompson re-signed defensive end Mike Daniels to a four-year, $41 million extension in December. In theory, his attention will now turn to Raji.
Raji, who turns 30 years old before the start of next season, enters free agency at the right time to maximize his value. After missing all of 2014 with torn right biceps, he returned last fall to have his best season in years. Most importantly, Raji got through the fall healthy, missing his only game in October because of a groin injury.
The Packers could benefit from re-signing Guion and Raji. Both players thrive on the interior of the defensive line. In tandem, they could provide solid depth to the Packers defensive front. Re-signing both may also be a luxury the Packers can’t afford. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Raji fetch a multi-year deal worth at least $4 million annually on the open market.
While Raji and Guion both excel lining up on the interior, they are not the same player. Guion, replacing Raji in 2014, showed a pass-rush burst with a career-high 3.5 sacks. He did not record a sack last season, but he mostly line up over the offensive tackle in the Packers base 3-4 defense.
Raji is the stouter run defender inside, but he hasn’t offered the same interior pass-rush ability. He had a half-sack in the Packers opener at the Chicago Bears, but that was the only time he reached the quarterback last season. Raji was held without a sack in 2012 and 2013 after starting his career with 10.5 sacks in his first three seasons.
One year ago, Guion’s career was at a crossroads following a February drug arrest in his hometown Starke, Fla. Guion paid a $5,000 fine as part of a plea agreement. Since then, he’s stayed out of trouble off the field. On the field, he produced enough to earn a long-term contract.
His numbers this past season didn’t match 2014, a career year for the former Minnesota Vikings defensive tackle. But they were steady. Guion, a fifth-round pick in 2008, finished with 21 tackles after missing the first three games with a suspension stemming from his arrest. He had 32 tackles in 2014.
Weston Hodkiewicz contributed to this report