Stopping short of calling it retirement, Green Bay Packers nose tackle B.J. Raji said Monday he would take a hiatus from football in 2016.
Raji, 29, was a free agent after signing one-year contracts in 2014 and 2015 to play each season for the Packers, who drafted the former Boston College defensive lineman in the first round.
"I have played football and been defined as a football player for as long as I can remember," Raji said in the statement Monday. "This offseason was the first time that I felt myself pulled in another direction and I am excited to first be 'all in' with my family back home and then to explore new frontiers. I am not exactly sure what the next phase of life will entail, but I am confident that all of the lessons I learned during my NFL journey will provide a solid foundation for success."
Raji was the ninth overall pick in 2009.
He overcame a torn biceps tendon that ended his 2014 season to have a solid season with the Packers in 2016, playing 41.6 percent of total defensive snaps.
Packers sources told ESPN Milwaukee that they did not view Raji's decision as a final farewell and expected him to play in 2017.