O.J. Atogwe Free Agency: Can Dolphins or Cowboys Lure Him Away from the Rams?
The midnight deadline came and went for the St. Louis Rams to retain free safety O.J. Atogwe for the 2010 season.
In order to keep Atogwe under their control, the Rams needed to offer their safety a $6.976 million deal for the upcoming season.
The Rams did not offer the tender, and as a result Atogwe now enters the free agent market.
Prior to the 2009 season, the Rams slapped Atogwe with the franchise tag in order to push back discussions on a long-term deal.
Now that the opportunity is out the window, Atogwe hits the free agent market as one of the best players available.
The Rams are still in the running to sign Atogwe, but now they will be forced to shell out the near $7 million they wanted to avoid or watch him leave to another team.
Here is a look at the teams that may be interested in the 29-year-old safety's services.
The Red Flag
The one warning sign about signing Atogwe is the rash of injuries he endured last season. Atogwe was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, plus he had to undergo hernia surgery.
With Atogwe now 29 years old and coming off an injury-marred season, teams will have to take his recent medical history into account.
The Vikings feature inexperience at the safety position with Jamarca Sanford and Tyrell Johnson. They have an immediate need to add a veteran presence in the defensive backfield.
Now it may come down to acquiring a proven, veteran safety and one of the best in the league to fill the void over viable question marks for the new season.
The Dolphins, like the Vikings, are unproven behind a stable safety tandem.
Miami, which has continued to upgrade its defense this offseason, took a strong safety in the fifth round. Now they have an opportunity to put a veteran, ball-hawking safety in their backfield.
Getting Atogwe to lock down their defensive center field has to be an attractive option in the very competitive AFC East.
Despite having a very solid secondary featuring Mike Jenkins and Terence Newman, the Cowboys have a fairly significant void at safety.
The Cowboys have never been shy to push their payroll and continue to stock talent.
Safeties Pat Watkins, Barry Church, and Alan Ball leave more to be desired across from Ken Hamlin.
The Lions are in continuous need of talent, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
Safeties Louis Delmas, a budding star, and Ko Simpson manned their positions fairly enough, but they currently lack the playmaking skills Atogwe has.
Getting a veteran and one of the league's best safeties across from Delmas appears to be the priority.
The Eagles are in immediate need of a free safety following Marlin Jackson's season-ending Achilles tear.
The question for the Eagles may be whether they want to commit to Atogwe long-term or if they will look to secure him just for one season.
Either way, Philadelphia has to feel somewhat unsettled going into the season with a backup atop their safety depth chart.