Should the New England Patriots Target Safety O.J. Atogwe?

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMarch 12, 2012

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01:   Oshiomogho Atogwe #20 of the Washington Redskins tackles Dion Lewis #28 of the Philadelphia Eagles during a game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2012 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

If a clear and pressing need is any indication, the New England Patriots should have former Washington Redskins safety O.J. Atogwe in their sights.

Mike Jones of the Washington Post reported Monday that the Redskins will release Atogwe, making him a street free agent who can sign with any team he pleases at any time he pleases. 

But should the Patriots pull the trigger?

Why Atogwe Fits

The importance of the safety position is underrated, and nobody knows that better than Patriots fans after 2011. The reason is because good safety play can compensate for bad cornerback play.

While there's time yet for the Patriots cornerbacks to turn it around, upgrading at safety should be of prime importance.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has spoken glowingly of Atogwe in the past. "I can't pronounce his name," said Belichick leading up to a game against the St. Louis Rams in 2008, "but he is a very productive guy with eight interceptions last year [and] he has already had a bunch this year including preseason. He is around the ball a lot."

The Patriots could have used that at safety last year, having lined up wide receiver/special teams player Matthew Slater as the deep man in some situations due to both a lack of talent and some injuries.

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Why Atogwe Doesn't Fit

It's questionable whether Atogwe is the same guy he was when Belichick made those comments. He will be 31 by the start of the 2012 season, and has battled injuries over the past few season.

With that and a league-wide need for playmaking safeties, there are enough questions to make a team cautious about the prospect of bringing in Atogwe.

He signed a five-year, $26 million contract in 2011, and although the Redskins clearly overpaid (per usual), he'll probably be looking for big money again in 2012.

My Slant

The Patriots could use a guy like Atogwe at their price, but if it turns into a bidding war, New England should bow out early.

They have been able to squeeze a few more drops out of cast-off free agents in the past where it appeared there may be no juice and all rind. There's enough cause for concern with Atogwe, though, that the Patriots should avoid going all-in for him as a fix at safety.

Call the Play

Should the Patriots go after Atogwe? Vote in the poll and leave a comment below.