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  • Strange Day At Rams Park

    Strange day at Rams Park

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    03/05/2010

    On the eve of free agency, a period in which most NFL teams break out their wallets, the Rams symbolically put theirs back in their pocket.

    In an unusual move, the Rams officially tendered strong safety Oshiomogho Atogwe at the lowest level possible Thursday as a restricted free agent — the right-of-first-refusal level. Should Atogwe get an outside offer from another team and the Rams decide not to match, the Rams would get no draft pick compensation.

    "It's a risky move," said one league insider familiar with the Atogwe situation. "It's almost like they're trying to get too cute on this one."

    For now, the move saves the team $5.75 million. Had the Rams tendered Atogwe at any of the four other available levels — original draft pick, second-round draft pick, first-round draft pick, first- and third-round draft picks — Atogwe would have been due $6,976,000. Instead, at the right-of-first-refusal level, Atogwe gets only $1,226,000.

    Neither Atogwe nor his agent could be reached for comment Thursday. Atogwe could force the Rams' hand simply by not signing the tender. The Rams would then have the option to either release him by June 1 or pay him the full $6,976,000. In doing so, they could run the risk of alienating Atogwe to the point where he could skip all of the offseason program until June 1.

    It's doubtful the move will go over big in the locker room. With 10 days to go before the start of the team's offseason conditioning program, Rams players remain scattered all over the country. But one player's reply to the move, via text message Thursday, was: "What!!!"

    Even with matching rights, another team could drop in a so-called poison pill or expensive clause that could make it difficult for the Rams to match on Atogwe. The Rams obviously feel confident that Atogwe is not a $7 million player, and he probably isn't.

    But he's arguably one of the two best players — along with middle linebacker James Laurinaitis — on the Rams' defense. As one veteran NFL coach told the Post-Dispatch last week in evaluating the Rams' defense, "To me, other than Atogwe in the back end, I think their secondary's bad."

    It was a strange day all around at Rams Park.

    — Quarterback Marc Bulger was there Thursday, but it's unclear whether he met with team officials. It's looking more and more as if Bulger has played his last game with the club, but the Rams don't have to be in a hurry to cut or trade him — not until they execute a trade for a veteran quarterback, or see Oklahoma's Sam Bradford and Notre Dame's Jimmy Clausen throw at their pro days.

    — Offensive guard Richie Incognito, released by the Rams in December, also was there to pick up some things. Incognito finished the season with Buffalo but was not tendered by the Bills. He is drawing interest from several teams and was told by the Rams that they might have some interest in re-signing him.

    — The Rams completed their tender process by tendering safety Craig Dahl at the right-of-first-refusal level, the same as Atogwe. They did not tender tight end Daniel Fells or defensive tackle Gary Gibson, meaning both become the equivalent of unrestricted free agents today, the start of the free agency and trading period. The decision not to tender Fells leaves the Rams with only two tight ends under contract with any appreciable NFL experience: Billy Bajema and recently signed Derek Fine.

    Only five of the Rams' 13 restricted free agents have received tender offers from the club: Atogwe, Dahl, defensive end Victor Adeyanju, offensive tackle Alex Barron and defensive tackle Clifton Ryan.

    The eight who did not receive tenders are free today to shop the market, no strings attached: Fells, Gibson, defensive back Eric Bassey, running back Samkon Gado, wide receiver Ruvell Martin, long snapper Ryan Neill, guard-center Mark Setterstrom and cornerback Jonathan Wade.

    The Rams also continue to work on their own list of unrestricted free agents, most notably defensive ends James Hall and Leonard Little. Little still hasn't committed to playing in 2010, although he is said to be leaning that way.

    Little lives in Charlotte, N.C., and it's rumored that the Carolina Panthers could be interested in signing him, particularly with Julius Peppers headed out the door.

    "If they would call, I would really have to consider it," Little told the Charlotte Observer on Thursday.

    Three former Rams assistant coaches, including defensive line coach Brian Baker, are on the current Carolina staff, and Little thinks highly of Baker.

    "He's been a great inspiration to me, off the field and on the field," Little told the Observer. "He's a great person, a great family man."

    As for outside free agents, the Rams' options appear limited. Because 2010 is an uncapped year, more than 200 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency are now restricted free agents.

    Most of the available unrestricted free agents are aging veterans. The few players available in the prime of their careers will have plenty of options other than a Rams team that has lost 42 of its last 48 games.

    The Rams did have some interest in San Diego running back Darren Sproles, but in a surprise change of direction the Chargers tendered Sproles at the highest level Thursday as a restricted free agent. Originally, they planned not to tender him at all. The high tender means the Chargers would get first- and third-round draft picks as compensation if they chose not to match an outside offer.

  • #2
    Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

    This is very odd. Gibson outplayed Carriker in camp last year, and we're fine with letting him walk. We appear to be letting both of our pass-catching tight ends (McMichael and Fells) leave with no strings, along with our de facto starting left guard Mark Setterstrom. With Little and Hall free to leave, we may not have a starter opposite Long at DE anymore, either. We are still planning on fielding a team next year right?

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

      UGHHHHHHHHHH I've been a Rams fan for 20 years and lived in LA, but my god, today has just been the most baffling effing day I can remember. Just pay Atogwe, for christs sake. If you hadn't signed effing AJ Feeley to 3 million a year you would have the additional money to pay the man. He has been the company line guy for years and is one of our best players, period. WHAT.THE.HELL.ARE.WE.DOING?!

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

        Originally posted by Goldenfleece View Post
        This is very odd. Gibson outplayed Carriker in camp last year, and we're fine with letting him walk. We appear to be letting both of our pass-catching tight ends (McMichael and Fells) leave with no strings, along with our de facto starting left guard Mark Setterstrom. With Little and Hall free to leave, we may not have a starter opposite Long at DE anymore, either. We are still planning on fielding a team next year right?
        I have to agree with you, some of these moves have me thinking, but the comment about them possibly being interested in Incognito again is just crazy.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

          u can cross out Dunta off the list atlanta just signed him...

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

            Originally posted by jkramsfan View Post
            I have to agree with you, some of these moves have me thinking, but the comment about them possibly being interested in Incognito again is just crazy.
            I was thinking the same thing. What could have possibly changed that would make the Rams want to even consider bringing back a guy who consistently hurt the team, got into a shouting match on the sideline with Spags, and trashed the organization at the first opportunity. Strange indeed.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

              Originally posted by peramoure View Post
              UGHHHHHHHHHH I've been a Rams fan for 20 years and lived in LA, but my god, today has just been the most baffling effing day I can remember. Just pay Atogwe, for christs sake. If you hadn't signed effing AJ Feeley to 3 million a year you would have the additional money to pay the man. He has been the company line guy for years and is one of our best players, period. WHAT.THE.HELL.ARE.WE.DOING?!
              Yeah, I'm still holding out hope that we manage to keep Atogwe. He's a playmaker, stays out of trouble, and is in his prime. You'd think we'd be making more of an effort to sign him long-term if we don't want to keep paying him tag money every year.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                naw i thnk oj is out....whats the status on Greg Olson???

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                  Originally posted by Goldenfleece View Post
                  This is very odd. Gibson outplayed Carriker in camp last year, and we're fine with letting him walk. We appear to be letting both of our pass-catching tight ends (McMichael and Fells) leave with no strings, along with our de facto starting left guard Mark Setterstrom. With Little and Hall free to leave, we may not have a starter opposite Long at DE anymore, either. We are still planning on fielding a team next year right?
                  I wouldnt exactly call McMichael a pass catching tight end because he drops way too many balls. As for the Rams basically doing nothing except signing a scrub qb is driving me crazy. With an uncapped year coming up and as bad as we are we could be signing guy to contracts that are front loaded during the uncapped year, maybe im wrong there but you get my point. Yet we sign only AJ Feely on the first day? Feely would have been there a month from now, no one wants that guy that bad. I heard Jeff George might be making another come back maybe we should jump on that right now. Hershall Walker is in great shape maybe we should get him before it's too late. Man this is irritating we need players in here to help this team out. Why the hell they are doing this to Atogwe is beyond me, the guy has been more than patient with this team. He never complains or anything and we practically diss him buy only offering first refusal to save money??? Boy things are really looking up.:|
                  Aim high Willis, Aim High!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                    People we were 3-13, 2-14, 1-15 the last 3 years. Alot of un(fan)popular decisions "HAVE" to be made.

                    In Devaney and Spags we trust????
                    sigpic :ram::helmet:

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                      Originally posted by laram0 View Post
                      People we were 3-13, 2-14, 1-15 the last 3 years. Alot of un(fan)popular decisions "HAVE" to be made.

                      In Devaney and Spags we trust????
                      Such as paying a 3rd String quarterback $6 million?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                        Man, the front office is giving me a headeache...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                          Maybe it's the players they don't want to play for the Rams, heck would you?
                          LA RAMMER

                          It's Jim not Chris
                          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HNgqQVHI_8

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                            Note the money that this saves the rams right now. Note all of my prior posts on chip not wanting to spend money while the sale is pending.

                            ramming speed to all

                            general counsel

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Strange Day At Rams Park

                              I've lost all faith in the rams.....

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • RamWraith
                                Atogwe awaits free agency
                                by RamWraith
                                By Jim Parker
                                Canwest News Service
                                Wednesday, February 13, 2008

                                WINDSOR, Ont. - Oshiomogho Atogwe easily roamed through the street crowds at this year's Super Bowl in Phoenix, Ariz., virtually unnoticed.

                                "I'm a low key person," the 26-year-old from Windsor, Ont., said. "I'm still behind a helmet, so people don't know me."
                                But his time in anonymity might be quickly coming to an end as the St. Louis Rams free safety becomes a restricted free agent at the end of this month.

                                After a season where he led the NFC with eight interceptions, the five-foot-11, 210-pound Atogwe could be set for a big payoff.

                                "Free agency doesn't worry me because I know I'll be playing football somewhere next year," Atogwe said. "It's been a blessing to play as long as I've played. I can't ask for anymore.

                                "I've had coaches and teammates who have helped me to grow as a person and in this league, (success) has to be fast or it doesn't come at all."

                                Atogwe's free agent choices could be limited. With only three seasons in the NFL, he's a restricted free agent, which means the Rams can match any offer he receives.

                                "Free agency will take care of itself," he said. "There's not too much I can do. It's up to the team and the (interested) teams to decide."

                                The Rams have until Feb. 28 to set a compensation price for Atogwe signing elsewhere. It's expected St. Louis will make the compensation for Atogwe a first-round pick. That will guarantee him at least $1.85 million US next season, which would be a huge jump from 2007.

                                Although the Rams had the sixth-highest payroll in the NFL last season, Atogwe was 51st on the team's payscale earning $354,840. That despite having a career-high 75 tackles, eight picks, which was second in the NFL, and 12 knockdowns. Two of those picks were against Green Bay legend Brett Favre. He returned another 52 yards for a touchdown against Arizona for a touchdown that reminded him of his high school days.

                                "I got some good blocks and then turned the corner," Atogwe said.
                                The Rams, who selected Atogwe in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft out of Stanford, have already approached Atogwe about a new deal.

                                "We've been in talks, but it's nothing too serious," Atogwe said of the Rams.
                                A big decision for him is whether to sign a one-year deal, which will make him an unrestricted free agent in 2009, or the security of a long-term deal.

                                "I'm still deciding on that," he said. "I love playing for the St. Louis Rams. It's a great organization and the fans are great, so there's some interest in a long-term deal. I'm more patient though and I know everything happens in time."

                                For now, he can look back on a breakout season that has made him a household...
                                -02-14-2008, 08:29 PM
                              • ontarioramfan
                                Miami Herald Article on Atogwe
                                by ontarioramfan
                                Heres an article echoing what i've been saying regarding atogwe and why teams havent put an offer sheet for him

                                Do you like Safety O.J. Atogwe? Get in line. And wait until June 1.

                                A month after the start of free agency, the Dolphins and several other NFL teams have yet to address a glaring need at free safety. Oh, sure, Miami tried. But Ryan Clark re-signed with Pittsburgh, leaving this team with the same question as the rest.

                                Why not O.J. Atogwe?

                                Atogwe, as you already know, is a restricted free agent tendered by the Rams at the lowest possible level. He's a solid player, and he wouldn't even require any draft-pick compensation like other expensive RFAs, such as Indianapiolis’ Antoine Bethea.

                                Yet for whatever reason, teams like Miami are avoiding him as if he’s got a case of the Swine Flu and a Staph Infection all at the same time. That reason, as apparently needs to be reminded to many Dolphins fans still clamoring for Atogwe, is a bit complicated.

                                The short version can be summed up with a one-sentence quote from one of my league sources: “Many teams know that his (Right of First Refusal) is likely to go away on June 1, so some teams have said they don’t want to do a deal that Rams would match.”
                                Basically, Atogwe has the potential to become an unrestricted free agent on June 1.

                                Now, for the more in-depth explanation: The Rams are currently trying to reach a long-term deal with Atogwe. Those negotiations aren’t likely to intensify until sometime between April 15 (the deadline for teams to submit offer sheets on restricted free agents) and May 31 (the last day for teams with RFAs to offer acceptable tenders).

                                But there’s a catch. If the Rams can’t reach a long-term deal, and they want to keep Atogwe, they’ll have to give him an acceptable tender that pays him 110 percent of his 2009 salary with all of the same conditions as the previous contract.

                                Since he had a $6.3 million guaranteed salary last season, that means the Rams would once again need to guarantee him $6.93 million – an excessive cost that can be avoided by a long-term deal.

                                So when April 15 hits, the pressure will be on the Rams to reach a new deal within 45 days or else Atogwe will become an unrestricted free agent, able to sign with any other NFL team, including the Dolphins.

                                For that reason, no teams are interested in providing Atogwe with an offer sheet, since that would allow the Rams to simply end their need to negotiate with Atogwe because they could simply impose their right of first refusal and match that offer.
                                Instead, teams can force the Rams’ hand by making them pony up an acceptable long-term deal or suffer the potential consequences.

                                From my perspective, I would imagine Atogwe would be very reluctant to finish a deal with the Rams, especially since he maintains a considerable amount...
                                -03-30-2010, 06:56 AM
                              • r8rh8rmike
                                Atogwe Will Skip Offseason Programs
                                by r8rh8rmike
                                Atogwe will skip offseason programs

                                BY JIM THOMAS
                                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                                03/12/2010


                                A year ago at this time, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe showed up for the start of the Rams' offseason conditioning program and took part in minicamps, OTAs (organized team activities) and training camp.

                                He didn't miss a thing even though he was named the team's franchise player, an unpopular designation for players seeking long-term deals.

                                But that won't be the case this year. The Rams' offseason conditioning program begins Monday, and Atogwe will not be in attendance. In fact, barring a change in contract status, Atogwe will be a no-show at all team activities this spring and summer, according to league sources.

                                Atogwe and his agent have declined comment since the Rams last week tendered Atogwe at $1.226 million, the lowest possible tender as a restricted free agent for someone with Atogwe's experience level in the NFL.

                                Those who know Atogwe say he's not angry, that he gets it — he understands this is the business side of the NFL. Nonetheless, those close to Atogwe say he isn't sure what to make of the Rams' low tender offer and wonders if the Rams might be dangling him as potential trade bait.

                                At the low tender level, the Rams have matching rights if Atogwe gets an offer from another team. But the Rams get no draft pick compensation if they decide not to match. But if Atogwe does get an outside offer, there's nothing to stop the Rams from telling the other team: "We won't match if you give us a draft pick."

                                This is the third offseason in a row that Atogwe has sought a long-term deal. He played as a restricted free agent in 2008 under a one-year tender of just over $2 million. Last year, he played for $6.34 million as the Rams' franchise player.

                                Had the Rams tendered Atogwe at any other level this offseason, he would've been entitled to $6.976 million in 2010, or 110 percent of what he made last year. So at the moment the low tender is costing him $5.75 million

                                The collective bargaining agreement hasn't been kind to Atogwe. Because 2010 is an uncapped year, Atogwe reverted back to restricted free agency status this offseason. With five years NFL experience, he would have been eligible for unrestricted free agency in a year with a salary cap. But in an uncapped year, it takes six years experience to be unrestricted.

                                On Monday, when the Rams' start their offseason conditioning program, Atogwe will be in Hawaii for the NFL Players Association's annual convention. Once he returns, he will continue his rehab from shoulder surgery and work out on his own away from Rams Park. Before suffering the shoulder injury Dec. 6 against Chicago, Atogwe had started 60 consecutive games for St. Louis. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2006, Atogwe has more interceptions and forced fumbles...
                                -03-12-2010, 12:23 PM
                              • MauiRam
                                Nice perspective on Atogwe's resigning ..
                                by MauiRam
                                Atogwe's odyssey has happy ending, back where he started
                                By Jason La Canfora | NFL Network

                                During a time of relatively unprecedented uncertainty regarding the future of the collective bargaining agreement, and in a year unlike any other in the free-agency era, few players have experienced these unique circumstances like O.J. Atogwe.

                                A year ago, the Rams safety was a franchise player. Then, as a result of the quirks in the system this year, he found himself a restricted free agent, placed with a low tender initially in March. The Rams opted not to raise that tender, retained his rights through the spring, and then, unable to reach a long-term settlement, Atogwe became an unrestricted free agent on June 1. While many of his peers have lamented their plight, refusing to attend workouts and minicamps and sounding off on management, Atogwe ended up signing a five-year extension back with St. Louis.

                                How about that? A bona fide, feel-good, happy-ending NFL contract story? In this, the summer of our labor discontent? I love it.

                                Atogwe's situation was the first of its kind in league history, and had numerous twists and turns, what with the various tender deadlines and the delayed unrestricted free agency, but the sides emerged, smiling, with a five-year, $32 million extension. Amid all the bombast, it's great to know deals can still get done and fair-mindedness is still rewarded.

                                "It speaks to the kind of person O.J. is," said Kevin Demoff, the Rams executive vice president of football operations and a primary negotiator for the club, "and the importance he placed on being one of the key veteran leaders in helping the Rams change direction. It also speaks to the partnership between O.J. and (general manager) Billy (Devaney) and (coach) Steve (Spagnuolo), through all of this uncertainty to be able to keep a strong relationship and keep an open dialogue, and we never got to the point where either side was frustrated or displeased publicly, and I'm impressed with the way all of those people handled it, which allowed ultimately the right deal to come together.

                                "The spirit of cooperation between Steve and Billy and O.J. is really what drove this deal. And I hope people realize how unique of a person O.J. is to handle the off-the-field contract issues so well over the past two years. And we appreciate his vision for moving this club forward and being a key part of that."

                                Atogwe is a thoughtful player, mature beyond his 29 years, who valued staying with the only franchise he's ever played for. Despite the lean years -- and it's been very lean in St. Louis -- he followed his instincts, and his heart.

                                "This is where I'm supposed to be," Atogwe said during a conference call Wednesday. "This is where my work is still to be done. St. Louis has been my home these last five years and my time here was not...
                                -06-30-2010, 01:03 PM
                              • RealRam
                                Atogwe Puts Himself Into a No-pouting Zone
                                by RealRam
                                Atogwe Puts Himself Into a No-pouting Zone :helmet:

                                By Jim Thomas
                                ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                                09/07/2009

                                After missing the entire offseason, training camp and preseason, Texans cornerback Dunta Robinson finally reported to Houston on Sunday.

                                In Carolina, defensive end Julius Peppers skipped all of the Panthers' offseason program and at one point asked to be traded before signing his one-year tender in late June.

                                In Baltimore, Terrell Suggs skipped camp in '08 and might have done the same this year before signing a six-year, $63 million contract in July that made him the highest-paid linebacker in the league.

                                And not that long ago in St. Louis, offensive tackle Orlando Pace went "0-for-Macomb" twice, skipping back-to-back training camps in protest of his franchise-player designation.

                                As those examples indicate, it's not unusual for players slapped with the franchise tag to take it personally.

                                What's unusual is the way Rams safety Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe handled his franchise-player designation this offseason. He showed up to work. Every day.

                                "It is rare to have no real disagreements over offseason participation, and to have a player be so committed to being around without the contract being in the forefront," said Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations. "I was shocked throughout the process of how responsive O.J. was to Coach (Steve Spagnuolo) and to putting the team first and being here every day."

                                Atogwe has started 48 consecutive games for the Rams since breaking into the lineup in 2006 as a second-year player. For the past two offseasons, he has unsuccessfully sought a long-term deal — first as a restricted free agent following the 2007 season and then as the team's franchise player following '08.

                                If he's upset about his contract status, it's not showing.

                                "I believe, as I've been taught, that having a reputation of good character is worth more than wealth and riches and chasing after the money," Atogwe said earlier in camp. "I feel like if I was going to be a part of the team this year, it was important — or imperative — that I was here in the offseason. Just to show my teammates that I'm committed to them, committed to what we have going on, regardless of my contract situation."

                                So Atogwe was here for the team's offseason conditioning program ... the minicamps ... organized team activities ... training camp and the preseason. He considered it especially important to be around with a new coaching staff in place.

                                "Being a guy that's been here with the Rams, now going on five years, some of the younger guys and even some of the vets need to see loyalty and faithfulness from the guys that have already been here," Atogwe said. "That's...
                                -09-07-2009, 02:29 AM
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