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Atogwe pricing himself off the field?

You'd think teams would be lining up to sign St. Louis Rams kinda-sorta unrestricted free agent Oshiomogho Atogwe, what with the interceptions and forced fumbles and all that. Instead, teams lined up to say they weren't interested in Atogwe in the days immediately following his arrival on the open market. Why? Concerns about his shoulder? Maybe. Price too high? Bingo.

The Lions, one of the few teams maintaining interest in Atogwe this week, do not want to pay the price reportedly being asked by Atogwe. 

The Rams are in this situation with Atogwe because they didn't want to pay the five year veteran the $6.9 million he commanded as a RFA thanks to the expiration of the league's CBA. Devaney and Kevin Demoff, the team's contract guru, are still said to be negotiating with Atogwe. But what will it take? 

There's been some talk that Atogwe should seek out a reasonable one-year deal, reestablish himself and look for a payday ahead of the 2011 season. There's one big problem with that: there might not be a 2011 season. Even if the labor situation gets ironed out, the landscape is likely to be a little different, and the cap will be back, which means Atogwe's prospects for a big free agent contract next year are just as cloudy as they now. 

There's not a time limit for Atogwe to sign a deal, though ideally something would happen in time for training camps to start. In the meantime, demands and needs for him and interested teams are likely to change. 

What exactly is Atogwe worth? His ball skills are among the league's best over the last few seasons, with the exception of a down season last year. Still, he's not regarded as a premier safety, and the holes in his game, like run defense, are well documented. Some contracts handed out to safeties this year include:


  • At the high end, there's the deal the Giants gave Antrel Rolle, a five-year, $37 million contract with $15 million guaranteed. He'll get almost $10 million this year with a $5 million signing bonus and $4.75 million salary. 
  • Nick Collins signed a four-year, $27 million deal with $14 million guaranteed. He has 13 INTS over the last two seasons, and one less year of experience than Atogwe who is two years older.
If the Rams really offered Atogwe a deal similar to the four-year, $14 million deal they gave James Butler last year, you can see why he's upset given what the market price set for safeties. The Nick Collins deal might be a little more than what Atogwe is worth, but it's not too far off the mark...or so you'd think. Whatever his asking price is at the moment, it's turning off suitors. So what kind of deal is reasonable for Atogwe, given the market realities and his ability?