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 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.