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B.J. Raji to take hiatus from NFL after seven seasons

Seven years in the NFL might be enough for B.J. Raji.

Raji released a statement Monday saying that he is taking a hiatus from the game.

"I am taking a hiatus from the NFL and will not play during the 2016 NFL season," Raji said. "This decision was made after hours of conversation with close family members and mentors and considerable self-introspection and is one in which I am absolutely certain. I cannot rule out a return to the NFL in the future, but I will definitely not be playing during the 2016 season."

In an interview Monday with the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Raji said health issues involving his mother and aunt spurred him into thinking about his NFL future. His mother is on dialysis with diabetes and his aunt is fighting breast cancer, he said.

"Their situation escalated horribly (after the season)," Raji told the Press-Gazette. "That got me thinking, talking to my aunt who's literally fighting for her life with breast cancer."

Raji said he told his agent Saturday night that he was retiring from the game before deciding to just go on hiatus, the Press-Gazzette reported.

"For the record, I had a very, very nice deal on the table," he said. "I had a nice, long-term deal on the table from Green Bay, and I had the interest of some other playoff-contending teams."

Despite recent contract talks with the Packers and interest from the Panthers, Raji walks away after 78 starts for a Packers franchise that made him the ninth overall pick of the 2009 NFL Draft.

Set to turn 30 in July, Raji rebounded last season to start 15 games after missing all of 2014 with a torn right biceps muscle. Signing a series of one-year pacts with Green Bay in recent years, Raji -- often battling injuries -- never matched his strong campaign from 2010. His future with the club was also in question after the Packers signed fellow tackle Letroy Guion.

With just 11 sacks in his career, Raji operated more as a run-stuffing behemoth for a defense that didn't see him play more than 65 percent of the team's snaps since 2012. Still, he was a fan favorite in Green Bay and will be remembered fondly for his on-field handiwork.

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