It sounds like McCarthy believes it's a hiatus and not a retirement.
Raji announced last week that he won't play football in 2016.
“I think he’ll play again,” McCarthy said Tuesday at the NFL annual meetings. “But it would have to be at the right time. He needs to go through this process of his life. But he’s also open to other challenges and opportunities out there. But this is purely a family-focused decision.”
McCarthy referenced family reasons for Raji’s decision to walk away from the game at age 29 and with a contract offer on the table to return to the Packers.
“I had a long conversation with him, and I respect him and told him I was proud of him,” McCarthy said. “I was aware of the health [issue] in reference to the woman who raised him. I didn’t realize the stage it was in when we talked about it before in training camp. He took me through the whole history of it [and also] just what’s going on with his father. It’s something he’s given a lot of thought to. I respect what he’s doing. We talk about family first and he’s exercising it. It says a lot about the man.”
The ninth overall pick in the 2009 draft is an unrestricted free agent. If he decides to return, he could sign with any team, but he has played his entire career with the Packers.
It’s always a concern when linemen miss time because it can be harder for them to keep weight off, but McCarthy thinks Raji knows how to take care of his body.
“I think we’ve all seen B.J. grow up in Green Bay and really the way he’s matured with some of the things he’s done the last couple of years, he’s very self-conscious and his working out and things he does away from the facility the last couple of years,” McCarthy said. “To answer your question, I don’t think that’s a major concern. Who knows what’s going to happen in the next 12 months.”
Packers president Mark Murphy said Raji’s decision took the entire organization by surprise but like McCarthy, he said he respects the decision, especially if he couldn’t commit 100 percent to football.
“It’s not an easy decision,” Murphy said. “The easy thing to do is take the money. Especially the letter he wrote, he obviously thought things through. No, I was surprised. I’m happy for him. He obviously gave it some thought.”