Before Reggie McKenzie came to the Oakland Raiders as their general manager, he spent years with the Green Bay Packers as their director of player personnel. With his roots still strong with the Packers, McKenzie has brought several former Packers to Oakland. That trend could continue this offseason with B.J. Raji as a potential free agent target for the Raiders.
McKenzie brought former Packers Charles Woodson, Brandian Ross, Matt Flynn, and several other players to Oakland after his stint with the Packers. Now, with about 65 million in cap space to burn for the Raiders this offseason, Raji seems like a good fit for McKenzie to target. Raji was drafted ninth overall by the Packers in the 2009 NFL Draft while McKenzie was there. He started out his career with solid production, but has fallen off in the past two seasons.
With only 17 tackles during the 2013 season in 16 starts, Raji's value has plummeted. He has not recorded a sack in his past 30 starts for the Packers over a two year span. Despite the struggles, Raji makes sense for the Raiders. He possesses versatility to play both inside at nose tackle and outside at defensive end, which McKenzie covets. He also could be had at a bargain price, which fits McKenzie's small risk, big reward management style. Raji is also in a make or break season, so he will have to consider shorter term deals to prove himself.
The Raiders have several pressing needs and none are more important than improving the defensive line. Last season, defensive end Lamarr Houston led the team with only six sacks. McKenzie will look to bolster that unit this offseason. At a discounted price, Raji will fill a need and not prevent the Raiders from more upgrades along the line. At 6'2" and 335 pounds, Raji will help the Raiders in their run defense. That could also pair him with unrestricted free agent Pat Sims to give them one of the girthiest and stoutest running walls in the league. Then could build the outside pass rush to complement the inside presence.
Tags: B.J. Raji, Charles Woodson, Football, free agent, Green Bay Packers, Lamarr Houston, NFL, Oakland, Oakland Raiders, Reggie McKenzie