Defensive lineman B.J. Raji has been offered a long-term contract worth $8 million a year.

A source said agent David Dunn, who also represents Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews, received that offer from the Green Bay Packers several months ago.

Dunn, acting on behalf of Raji, has turned it down more than once in ongoing talks with team negotiator Russ Ball.

Raji wouldn't confirm or deny the $8 million offer.

"I'm not going to talk about contract," he said at midweek.

With an average of $8 million, Raji would climb from eighth at $5.2 million to fourth on the Packers' salary list behind Rodgers ($22 million), Matthews ($13.2 million) and cornerback Tramon Williams ($8.25 million).

It's early, and like many players Raji seems to be shooting for the top of the market. Provided Raji isn't injured, time is on his side, and he can use the threat of unrestricted free agency in mid-March to his advantage.

Raji, however, would have to be willing to walk away for ultimate leverage. Sometimes players get what they are seeking plus much more at market. Other times, player and agent overvalue themselves and come up short.

The problem for Raji, and all players in the National Football League, is the 2011 collective bargaining agreement that proved to be a major victory for the owners. The salary cap is expected to be flat or increase just slightly for yet another year, and more realistic agents have come to terms with this and are bracing clients for disappointments in unrestricted free agency.

At this point, it looks to be a deep group of defensive tackles coming free in mid-March. The depressed market at the position figures to be in the $4 million to $6 million range.

Dunn broke the bank twice in Green Bay, but Rodgers and Matthews were face-of-the-franchise talents. Thanks largely to their union, players are finding out the money just isn't out there.

An executive high up in personnel for an NFL team was asked, given the market forecast for 2014 and beyond, if Raji should take the $8 million.

"Damn right he should," the scout said. "For $8 million he should be signing. Who is his agent?"

Another high-ranking personnel chief thought it would be a no-brainer for Raji.

"I would take it if I was him," the personnel director said. "Why? I'm with an organization I know and love. I'm probably not going to get that good a deal in the open market. My skill set is perfect for that defense. I'm very familiar with the defense."

The Packers are in no hurry, either.

While it's true the Packers have a ton of players (16) headed for unrestricted free agency, and eight are starters, their targets are Raji and cornerback Sam Shields.

Shields is in much the same situation as Raji, balking at a competitive offer from Green Bay in hopes the team will go higher or the market will fall his way in March.

With the combined cap salaries for Rodgers and Matthews climbing from $18.7 million to $29 million next year, the Packers could be stressed more than usual. But even if the Packers don't get Raji or Shields to bite before the end of the year, the $9.86 million they currently are beneath the cap can be carried over into next year.