This week's St. Louis Rams game changer is FS Oshiomogho Atogwe.
After a season working under the franchise tag, Atogwe was dealt a raw deal by the expiring CBA that made him a restricted free agent in what should have been a walk year that would have ideally led to a lucrative free agent contract. That didn't happen. In fact, even if the CBA had not left Atogwe in free agent purgatory, he may not have gotten the the filthy lucre after an injury-riddled season and a year of adjustments in a new defensive system that limited his playmaking ability.
Things should be different this year. By all accounts Atogwe will be healthy and ready to go for the regular season, and that should be just the thing the Rams need on defense.
Atogwe may not be the "do it all" safety, but his playmaking ability can make a difference for a more competitive Rams team. Fans have seen Atogwe steal a game before; most memorably a fumble return for a TD against the Redskins for the team's first win of 2008. With more established play in front of him, especially from the cornerbacks, Atogwe will have more freedom to do that thing he does, key in on the ball and make it his.
It sure looked like Atogwe would be playing somewhere else this season when the Rams tendered him at the lowest possible level and let him get to unrestricted free agency when contract talks didn't finish by the June 1 deadline. Instead they brought him back on a five-year deal, effectively making him a Ram for the remainder of his career, the peak years anyway. Re-signing your own free agents often gets overlooked as far as offseason moves go, but they're some of the most game changing decisions a team can make.