We are reaching the final days. Oshiomogho“OJ” Atogwe and the Rams front office have until July 15th to finalize a long term deal. Since Atogwe was designated as the Rams Franchise Player, if no long term deal is reached, the only option is to sign the tendered offer at $6.34M or sit out for the season. Unlike some franchised players, Atogwe has participated in all the off season workouts and no adverse words have shown up in the media from both sides. If no long term deal is reached, we can expect Atogwe to sign the tendered offer and be in camp on time but is that good enough?
Obviously a long term deal would be beneficial for both sides. Atogwe is a great young talent at safety. Not only do the Rams feel strongly about him, he was recently ranked the fifth best safety by Pete Prisco of CBSSports.com. That buts Atogwe up there with the likes of Ed Reed, Adrian Wilson, Troy Polamalu and Bob Sanders. The Rams made resigning Ron Bartell and Atogwe priorities in the off season. The Bartell deal was completed at $25M over four (4) years with a $4.1M signing bonus. With Atogwe we are still waiting.
Are we waiting on Atogwe or are we seeing some posturing by the Rams front office and Kevin Demoff. There appears to be little urgency in signing the recent draft picks or completing the Atogwe deal. Today marked the signing of the Rams first draft pick, Bradley Fletcher of Iowa who was drafted in the 3rd round. Far behind the pace of most other NFL teams. Reportedly deals are close for Darell Scott and Brooks Foster the Rams 4th and 5th round picks respectively. Of course that leaves the big two with Jason Smith and James Laurinaitis to get done.
Atowge is poised for a breakout season. He has been overlooked if not shunned the past several years. With Steve Spagnuolo and Ken Flajole on board and the potential for a more aggressive defense, Atowge might be a steal in the later rounds of some fantasy drafts.
The Rams need the Atogwe deal done. Atogwe has performed at a high level, he is young, and he has been a model franchise tagged player. The Rams secondary is young and has potential, the last thing they need is some hard feelings from contract negotiations. Bartell at one corner has a big new contract and James Butler at strong safety received a nice free agent deal from the Rams, doesn't Atogwe deserve the same?