Friday, February 14, 2014

Packers Free Agents: B.J. Raji and Ryan Pickett

I hadn't intended to combine both players into one post, but they are both expected to be playing for new teams in 2014 because its rumored that the Packers intend to spend money in free agency to re-make their defensive line.
For B.J. Raji, I'm surprised it's come to this. He was my preferred choice for their first round pick in 2009, and his strong finish in 2010 seemed to confirm that he was going to be a great player. His struggles began in 2011, when it seemed like the Packers were overworking him, but he wasn't much better in 2012 before becoming a non-factor by the end of last season. Unless they had some inside knowledge to explain why he struggled, it seemed like a good bet that the Packers would let another team sign him. And that was before it became known earlier this week that the Packers were looking at signing smaller, more athletic, defensive lineman. It'd be a surprise to see him back next season.

As for Ryan Pickett, it looks like age has finally caught up with him. He'll be 35 next season and certain to be one of the oldest players in the NFL. He was still good against the run last season, but not as good as he'd been in the past. Defensive lineman can age gracefully, as long as they stay healthy it's not a problem if they lose a step or two, but his days as a starter appear over. If he wants to play again in 2014, I'm sure he'll find another opportunity for a team who's looking for a backup NT, but I'm not expecting it'll be with the Packers.

It's unclear who will replace them next season, it's certain that some fresh players will have to be brought in via free agency and/or the draft, but this does look like the time to move on.

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