Atogwe Signs Franchise Tender

John MartinContributor IJuly 15, 2009

St. Louis Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe during pre-game introductions  against the Chicago Bears on ESPN Monday Night Football Dec. 11, 2006 in St. Louis. The Bears won 42 - 27.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

Unable to reach a long term deal, Oshiomogho “OJ” Atogwe signed the franchise tender from the Rams for $6.34M.  There have not been any updates on how far the sides were apart from a long term deal or if one or both sides were unwilling to compromise.   A prior article in the Bleacher Report reviewed some of the potential implications of the long term contract stagnation.  Everyone in Rams Nation is hoping this is not a forecast of the negotiations between the Rams front office (Kevin Demoff) and the remaining recent draftees.

Without a long term contract in place what does this mean for the Rams and OJ Atogwe?  How will it, if at all, affect his fantasy value?

Following up on his prior work ethic by participating all the off season activities although he was designated as the franchise player, the franchise tender was signed just hours prior to the deadline of 4pm on July 15th to complete any long term contract.  Therefore, at the very least we can expect Atogwe in camp on time.

Without a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) in place, Atogwe would become a restricted free agent at the end of the 2009 season.  This certainly would be advantageous to the Rams front office.  They would retain the option to match any reasonable offer or receive draft picks in exchange for letting Atogwe walk.  At the very least the Rams could expect a first and second round pick from any team signing Atogwe.  If a CBA were in placed at the end the year, the Rams front office would not have this option but could tag him again with the franchise tag.  Of course, no CBA would mean no cap.  That could be a huge payoff for Atogwe.  He could follow in Adam Archuleta’s footsteps and land a huge contract well over his actual value with a team like Washington.  Assuming Atogwe himself has not walk away from the negotiating table with a bad taste in his mouth, he has plenty to gain with a successful season on the field.  However, resigning Ron Bartell and OJ Atogwe were stated priorities of the Rams front office during the off season.  The Bartell deal was done in February at $25M over four (4) years with a $4.1M signing bonus and $8.6M in base guarantees.  At least for this season, they will occupy the same secondary, Bartell with a long term contract and Atogwe without. 

A former third round draft pick out of Stanford, Atogwe could have entered into the season with a nice long term contract, but it wasn’t in the cards. 

There are too many variables without a CBA to really determine any negative impact.  Based on his prior work ethic, I don’t see any change in his fantasy value by signing the franchise tender and playing without a long term contract.  Barring injury, he has everything to gain with a successful season.