Was there other interest in B.J. Raji?

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
4:00
PM ET
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When B.J. Raji agreed to return to the Green Bay Packers for a one-year, $4 million contract in March, it looked like a clear indication there was little or no interest in the former first-round draft pick on the free-agent market.

Not so, says the sixth-year veteran.

[+] EnlargeB.J. Raji
AP Photo/Tom DiPaceDefensive tackle B.J. Raji insists that staying in Green Bay is the best place for him this season.
"I talked to three or four other teams," Raji said.

Raji, speaking with reporters last week for the first time since he re-signed with the Packers, declined to name any of the teams that showed interest.

Whether there were any other serious -- or better -- offers has become moot. By signing a one-year deal to return to the team that drafted him ninth overall in 2009, he has put himself in a position to make another run at the free-agent market next offseason.

And he has another 16 games to prove he's worth more than a one-year deal.

Last season, Raji tied his career low with just 36 tackles, according to Packers' team statistics, and failed to record a sack for the second straight season. Since his 6.5 sack season of 2010, Raji has only three sacks.

"You can take that how you want to take it," Raji said. "I just thought this was the best opportunity for me this year."

It took some convincing by coach Mike McCarthy, who shared with Raji his early plans for revamping a defense that slipped to 25th in the NFL last season. One of those changes, McCarthy told Raji, hinged on the 6-foot-2, 337-pounder moving back to nose tackle on a full-time basis in coordinator Dom Capers' base 3-4 defense. That's a spot Raji played with considerable success in 2009 and 2010 before switching spots with defensive end Ryan Pickett.

"Obviously coach McCarthy helped put a few questions that I had to rest," Raji said. "I decided that with our offense and our philosophy on defense moving forward, that this would be the best opportunity for me to win and have success."

At this point, it appears Raji will be the only returning starter on the defensive line. Neither Pickett nor Johnny Jolly has been re-signed.

"I think B.J. likes it here, and I really like B.J.'s attitude right now," Packers defensive line coach Mike Trgovac said. "He's been a good leader in there. He's one of the older guys now. When he came in here as a rookie, I said, 'You're not going to believe how fast you're going to be the oldest guy in this room.' When you come in here as a rookie or a second-year guy -- me being in this league for 20 years -- guys don't realize how fast they're going to be the oldest guy in the room because everyone's careers are pretty short."

Rob Demovsky

ESPN Green Bay Packers reporter

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