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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Before Oshiomogho Atogwe settles where his football playing future will be, he plans on finding a location as far from here as possible to get away and relax.

    “I think this offseason I am going to go somewhere and get lost and take some time to think about it,” Atogwe said. “It’s been a long year for a lot of us and it’s been a long four years for me personally.”

    The Rams’ Most Valuable Player for the 2008 season picked the right time to have perhaps his best NFL season. Atogwe is due to hit the market on Feb. 27 when the league opens up free agency.

    After finding the next head coach, retaining Atogwe (along with cornerback Ron Bartell) is perhaps the Rams’ top priority.

    “I would love to have them,” coach Jim Haslett said. “They’re both doing a great job. I think O.J. (Atogwe) still has room to improve and I think Ronnie (Bartell) still has room to improve, but I think they’re both ascending football players.”

    And with good reason, considering Atogwe’s ball hawking ways. Atogwe finished 2008 with 109 tackles (second on the team), five interceptions, eight forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.

    Not many defensive players this side of Baltimore’s Ed Reed has that kind of play making resume.

    For his part, Atogwe says he likes St. Louis but understands the business aspect of the league and isn’t going to spend much time worrying about where he winds up.

    “St. Louis has treated me well, giving me the opportunity to play and I am always going to be appreciative of that,” Atogwe said. “Whatever happens, that is in God’s hands and I am not really fretting over it. I feel like I am going to be where I’m supposed to be this next year.”

    There won’t be many arguments from anyone in the Rams organization that Atogwe’s place is as the backbone of the defense for years to come.

    While fellow future free agent running back Steven Jackson held out of last year’s training camp, Atogwe attended (though he didn’t play much because of a hamstring injury) and waited his turn.

    As a restricted free agent last offseason, the Rams tendered Atogwe at the highest level and he signed the one-year tender offer without an offer from an outside team.

    At the time the Rams signed Jackson to a long term contract, it was initially assumed Atogwe would be a prime candidate for a franchise tag. That possibility still exists, especially considering the Rams’ desire to re-sign Bartell.

    The franchise number for a corner is more than a safety, meaning any one-year tag for Atogwe wouldn’t cost as much as one for Bartell. In 2008, for example, the franchise cost of a safety was roughly half of what it was for a cornerback.

    Because of uncertainty in what he’d be coming back to, Atogwe says he’s unsure about a return to St. Louis, even though he might not have much say in the matter.

    “I definitely would like to be back with some of the guys on the team,” Atogwe said. “It all depends on how things shape up as far as the front office, the coaches they can bring in here. It’s not going to be the same team it was this year. It’s not going to be coming back to the same coach and same situation so to me I look at it like this is really going to be a free agent team because it’s not going to be the same team. It’s kind of hard to say do I want to be back or do I not want to be back?”

    In his four seasons in St. Louis, Atogwe has grown fiercely loyal to some of his teammates, particularly fellow members of the secondary including Bartell and especially veteran safety Corey Chavous.

    Chavous served as Atogwe’s top mentor in his development from green rookie to team MVP.

    After a 2-14 season, though, there are plenty of changes expected to the roster and that could include the departure of many of his teammates and friends.

    “To me, outside of injuries that is the worst part of the business,” Atogwe said. “You establish these great relationships, great friendships and the thought that some of these guys you have been with for four, five, six years, or how many ever number of years might not be here next year it’s kind of disheartening.”

    Although Atogwe knows that is the nature of the beast, it’s also not something he particularly enjoys about his job.

    Still, there are plenty of factors that will go into whether or not Atogwe returns to St. Louis next year and in the future.

    For one, Atogwe believes the Rams are closer to competing for the NFC West Division than their record would indicate; especially considering the way the team finished the season by losing four straight competitive contests.

    “We were in a lot of competitive games this year,” Atogwe said. “One more play would have went our way we would have had a different record. So that is promising to see. That means the potential of having a winning season and being winners is here and it’s definitely something we can shoot for and look forward to next year.”

    Regardless of how his situation shakes out, it’s safe to assume Atogwe enjoys the city and his teammates enough to return under the right circumstances.

    “I love playing with the guys,” Atogwe said. “I would love to come back and play with them if the situation presents itself in the right light. It’s definitely not anything I am ruling out.”


  2. #2
    eldfan's Avatar
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    "The franchise number for a corner is more than a safety, meaning any one-year tag for Atogwe wouldn’t cost as much as one for Bartell. In 2008, for example, the franchise cost of a safety was roughly half of what it was for a cornerback."

    I could see the rams franchise him.
    Last edited by eldfan; -01-15-2009 at 12:37 AM.
    :ramlogo:

  3. #3
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Bring him back! End of story!

  4. #4
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    IMO only troy polomalu, Ed Reed, and Bob Sanders are playing better than him right now. He might be outplaying the oft injured Sanders. He is a top 5 playmaking safety hands down

  5. #5
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    He's a top five safety no doubt. Only reason he doesnt get the publicity is that he plays for us.

    We need them signed. NOW!!

    Everyone put that in your sigs!!!
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]
    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

  6. #6
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    He's a top five safety no doubt. Only reason he doesnt get the publicity is that he plays for us.

    We need them signed. NOW!!

    Everyone put that in your sigs!!!
    Top five?

    This debate has been staged before.

    As good as he's been, I don't see him in the same class as Reed, Polamalu, Sanders or Dawkins. When you speak of the top 10 he's definitely worthy of mention.

  7. #7
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    He's not a top five safety, but as someone said he is a top five PLAYMAKING safety. He just has a knack for getting the ball out our going up and getting balls from players. He still can develop, which is why we must keep him. Ditto for Bartell.
    Last edited by Bald_81; -01-15-2009 at 09:39 AM.

  8. #8
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    I wonder if he'll be out of position to answer the phone when his agent calls with offers from teams...

  9. #9
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Quote Originally Posted by Bar-bq View Post
    Top five?

    This debate has been staged before.

    As good as he's been, I don't see him in the same class as Reed, Polamalu, Sanders or Dawkins. When you speak of the top 10 he's definitely worthy of mention.
    So you mentioned 4 safeties that in your opinion are better than O.J.. Does that make him #5 as in top 5?

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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Quote Originally Posted by Bar-bq View Post
    As good as he's been, I don't see him in the same class as Reed, Polamalu, Sanders or Dawkins. When you speak of the top 10 he's definitely worthy of mention.
    I was going to say the same thing. Some people need to put the crackpipe down

  11. #11
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    If the Rams would pair OJ with a strong hitting S he'd even be that much better.

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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Quote Originally Posted by txramsfan View Post
    If the Rams would pair OJ with a strong hitting S he'd even be that much better.

    You know what else would make him that much better? If he was in better position more often and was actually a factor against the run...

  13. #13
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Atogwe AND BARTELL need resigned.

    If we lose on them, we're losing alot, there the foundation of our defense. The rest of the foundations under contract

    Chris Long, Witherspoon, Ryan
    RamsFan16

  14. #14
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    Re: Atogwe Unconcerned with Free Agent Status

    Quote Originally Posted by RamsFan16 View Post
    Atogwe AND BARTELL need resigned.

    If we lose on them, we're losing alot, there the foundation of our defense. The rest of the foundations under contract

    Chris Long, Witherspoon, Ryan
    Not resigning Atogwe would be devastating, as we'd go into next season wihout a FS or SS!

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