Raji Joins Guion as Packers Solidify D-Line

According to a source, B.J. Raji returned with a one-year deal worth $2.75 million and incentives to $4 million. With Letroy Guion back, too, adding to the defensive line is no longer a major draft priority. (Jeff Hanisch/USA TODAY)

Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson can take a black marker and cross off one major item on his offseason to-do list.

Thompson went a long way toward fortifying his defensive line on Monday by reaching an agreement with Letroy Guion and, later, coming to terms with fellow free agent nose tackle B.J. Raji.

According to a source, Raji’s contract is for one year and $2.75 million. After missing all of 2014 with a torn biceps tendon, the new contract includes playing-time bonuses that raise the value to $3.5 million. With more incentives, including the Pro Bowl, Raji could earn $4 million.

That’s about on par with the one-year deal Raji signed last year — $3.6 million base salary and signing bonus, with bonuses bumping up the total value to $4 million.

According to ESPN.com’s Adam Caplan, Guion’s one-year deal also is worth $2.75 million with incentives boosting its value to $3.25 million.

Neither transaction was a surprise. The Packers remained in Guion’s corner throughout his recent troubles. And we reported a month ago that Raji was expected to re-sign.

The signings will make navigating next month’s draft much easier. With Raji, Guion, Mike Daniels, Datone Jones, Josh Boyd, Khyri Thornton, Mike Pennel and Bruce Gaston, the Packers will have eight returning players under contract. Thompson likely will draft a defensive lineman — in the six drafts since going to the 3-4, Thompson has taken one defensive lineman in each draft and a total of 10. However, it will no longer be a priority for Thompson to take a defensive lineman with an early pick, allowing him to focus on critical needs at linebacker and cornerback.

Raji, who will turn 29 in July, was one of the league’s bright young defensive linemen in 2010 (6.5 sacks, 12 quarterback hits) and 2011 (three sacks, 10 quarterback hits). However, his production drastically tapered off in 2012 (no sacks, seven quarterback hits) and 2013 (no sacks, three quarterback hits).

Last summer, Raji appeared primed for a big bounce-back season after being moved back to nose tackle after a couple seasons playing primarily end in the base 3-4 defense. However, he was injured in the third preseason game to ruin what had been a superb start to training camp.

Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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