Friday, August 14, 2009

Green Bay Packers and B.J. Raji Reach Deal

The Green Bay Packers and former Boston College defensive tackle B.J. Raji agreed to terms on a five-year contract according to sources close to the negotiations. Preliminary indications are that the Packers gave Raji, the 9th pick in the 2009 NFL Draft, a five-year contract worth $28.5 million with an additional $18.5 million in guarantees (Source: here). The Packers decided to get Raji under contract instead of waiting until the players drafted on either side of him agreed to terms (8th pick Eugene Monroe by the Jacksonville Jaguars and 10th pick Michael Crabtree by the San Francisco 49ers). This was a well-calculated tactical move by the Packers.

Raji is represented by Athletes First, the same agency that represented Keith Rivers, the 9th pick by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2008 NFL Draft. Rivers had a similar holdout last season and ended up agreeing to a five-year deal worth a reported $20.1 million with an additional $15.7 million in guarantees (Source: here).

It’s interesting to compare Raji and Rivers’ contracts. What strikes me most is that Raji stands to receive almost $8.4 million more in total value and a little less than $3 million more in guarantees than Rivers received just one year ago. Although that seems like an astronomical increase in such a short amount of time, Raji potentially could have received even more money because of two anomalies coming out of the NFL Draft this year. First, Mark Sanchez, the 5th pick by the New York Jets, and Darrius Heyward-Bey, the 7th pick by the Oakland Raiders, obtained large raises this year over players picked in those slots in 2008. Second, if the Packers waited until Monroe or Crabtree signed, they could have ended up paying Raji even more money. I applaud the Packers for taking charge of the situation.

Raji left Green Bay a few days ago for Boston because a deal did not seem imminent at the time. Raji missed 14 practices during the holdout and will most likely sit out during the Packers first preseason game this Saturday at Lambeau Field against the Cleveland Browns. Getting Raji into camp as soon as possible is paramount if the Packers want Raji to play in their first regular season game at home against their division rivals, the Chicago Bears. I mean, we want to win, of course, but we may as well get our money’s worth, too.

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