Surprisingly, the Green Bay Packers have been preemptive this off-season and general manager Ted Thompson was once again Friday, re-signing Letroy Guion to a new, three-year contract, just a month ahead of him becoming a free agent.
The move was an interesting one for the Packers and one that I approve of, particularly with the status of last season’s starting defensive tackle B.J. Raji very much up in the air.
Guion and the Packers agreed to a three-year deal worth more than $11.25 million, which is close to about $3.5 million a year. That is pretty comparable to what Green Bay has paid Guion over the past few seasons, it just comes with a multi-year commitment for the first time.
So what does this deal mean for Raji? Is Guion a long-term answer at nose tackle or do the Packers have something else in mind?
In Guion’s first season in Green Bay, he had 32 tackles, four of which were for loss and 3.5 sacks. He played mostly nose tackle that season, due to the fact that Raji missed it with an injury.
Yet, last year, Guion was given a three-game suspension from the NFL and that held him back as Raji took over his old job. He still played 31 percent of the snaps and finished with 21 tackles and two tackles for loss.
The former fifth-round pick also started playing some of his best footfall down the stretch. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the Packers aren’t interested in keeping Raji.
It was always going to come down to money, now Green Bay has a little more leverage than it did before and the ability to walk away from a deal if necessary.
In his own right, Raji had a bounce back season, finishing with 21 tackles, half a sack, two passes defensed and three tackles for loss. He also held up well against the run and did a good job of pushing the pocket.
Raji can still be a solid player and if he were to return and re-join a defensive line that already includes Guion, Mike Daniels, Mike Pennel and Datone Jones, it could be a force to be reckoned with.
Or the Packers could be readying for the transition to a nose tackle grouping of Guion and Pennel, who had 25 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and two tackles for loss. And at 6-4, 332 pounds, he has ideal size to play inside in the 3-4.
Whatever the case, the Guion deal doesn’t have to mean Raji won’t be back. But, with Guion in the fold for the next three years, coupled with the development of Pennel, if Raji is going to return, it will likely need to be on a pretty team friendly deal.