With the announcement by the Commish' all but nailing the hole in the coffin of the salary cap, this offseason could be an interesting ride for the Rams. The thought of grabbing high-upside young players will most likely go out the window, as any team besides the Raiders will probably tender their young RFA's at a respectable level and even if they do want to dump them, they will most certainly be looking for something in return.
This leads to the unfortunate conclusion that to get some young new players, the Rams will have to give something up. That "something" is most likely draft picks because there aren't too many players on the Rams that others teams would trade a great deal for. It's quite unlikely that the Rams will dump Steven Jackson, but as it's been brought up before, the Rams do have one RFA that should draw plenty of interest: O.J. Atogwe.
The team so far has been quietly (working? Chillar-ing?) on a long term contract for him. I personally don't think it's a coincidence that he was franchised the year a new defensive minded coaching staff was brought in to control the team. I also don't think it's a coincidence the team hasn't plowed through contract negotiations given the state of the RFA situation regarding him. The Rams are most likely moving ahead as a business. That means evaluating how much he is worth, how much he wants, and how much the team can get for him in exchange.
If they are waiting it out to see what happens on CBA front and decide to place O.J. on the RFA trading block, they would probably want to snag a first round pick for him (they'd likely tender him at that level). If he was shipped off for picks, would the Rams go for a FS (most likely through the draft, as it doesn't make sense for them to trade their FS and then ship off more picks for another) or would they use what they already have? If the Rams were to *upgrade* at that position, the only available option in the draft is S Eric Berry from Tennessee (who I might add is probably the only other player worthy of being the first pick). But that would mean that barring the Lions paying for O.J., Ndamukong Suh would not be a Ram (no offense to O.J., but I could live with having the first two picks in this draft).
Bottom line- Is it worth it to try and play the RFA game with Atogwe? So far, the relationship between him and the team has been pretty cordial, but we've all seen what happens when you jerk around a player who wants a long term contract. Make the call in the poll; do you want another first rounder and a Rams team minus Atogwe, or do the Rams keep him and hope the team can find enough ammo to improve the team?