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Miami Herald Article on Atogwe

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  • Miami Herald Article on Atogwe

    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 of leverage in the current situation.

    His options, at this point, seem pretty good. He can (a) Wait to see if the Rams fold and decide to pay him a healthy $6.93 next season, or (b) Test free agency and force the Rams into a bidding war over his services with other teams.

    Of course, there is one risk. If many teams, including the Rams, are able to address their need for a free safety during the draft, Atogwe’s leverage could become diluted. So expect some talks to heat up between April 15 and April 22.

    If nothing gets done during those dates, expect Atogwe to become a hot name for any remaining teams still looking for an answer at the position.

    [UPDATE: In reference to the possibility of a team applying a poison pill to obtain Atogwe's services, I was given this explanation from a source: "No team will say it, but it appears that a poison pill is something that teams aren't willing to do. I believe that's one of the things the owners want to eliminate in a new CBA, so I think there's real reluctance to go "outside the box" on this issue. I'm not saying no one will do it, but it doesn't appear likely right now."]

  • #2
    Re: Miami Herald Article on Atogwe

    Interesting article. Although it's nearly all speculation at this point, it is interesting to read about the possibilities of what could happen.

    Comment

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    • TekeRam
      Rams say adios to Atogwe
      by TekeRam
      Posted by Mike Florio on June 2, 2010 6:48 AM ET via ProFootballTalk.com

      When the clock struck 12 in St. Louis (technically, 11:00 p.m. local time), Rams safety O.J. Atogwe became a restricted free agent with no restrictions.

      Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat reports the change in Atogwe's status, which occurred due to a provision of the labor deal requiring teams to re-issue RFA tenders on June 1, and which would have required the Rams to offer Atogwe nearly $7 million in order to keep him.

      The move comes as no surprise. When the Rams opted to tender Atogwe at the lowest possible level -- the only level that did not allow the $1.226 million offer to be trumped by 110 percent of his 2009 franchise-player salary -- it became obvious that the Rams wouldn't be re-issuing the tender three months later, when the rules require the team to offer at least 110 percent of the prior year's salary, regardless of the level that previously was tendered.

      Per Balzer, the Rams tried throughout the day to work out a new deal with Atogwe. It's possible that Atogwe simply wanted to hit the open market. It's more likely that his agent had gauged the market in March and/or April, and that Atogwe knows what other teams are willing to pay.

      Unless Atogwe wants much more than any team will offer, he shouldn't be on the market for long. Indeed, by now his agent should know exactly who's interested, and exactly what they'll pay.

      Balzer points out that potentially interested teams include the Cowboys, *****, Vikings, and Dolphins. The Eagles reportedly will not be pursuing Atogwe.

      Of course, it's also possible that Atogwe will find that no one else is willing to pay him as much as the Rams would pay, and that he'll decide to stay put.

      Another issue that Atogwe will face is his ability to pass a physical. He finished the 2009 season with a potentially serious shoulder injury.

      Because Atogwe did not become an unrestricted free agent as currently defined by the CBA (i.e., a player with six or more years of service whose contract expired), the "Final Eight Plan" does not apply, allowing the Cowboys and the Vikings (and the Jets and the Saints) to pursue him without limitations.
      -06-02-2010, 04:24 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, 11:23 AM
    • MauiRam
      Balzar today on Atogwe ..
      by MauiRam
      Rams must make decision on Atogwe's status on Tuesday
      Team has to sign him, make a new tender offer or let him become a free agent

      By Howard Balzer
      Tuesday, June 1, 2010

      The day everyone expected has arrived. Tuesday is the day the Rams have to make a decision on restricted free-agent free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe.

      At the beginning of the league year in early March, the Rams elected to tender Atogwe at the lowest level of $1.226 million, rather than give him a 110 percent increase over his 2009 salary of $6.342 million. The lower tender meant the Rams retained right of first refusal, but there would have been no draft-choice compensation had Atogwe received an offer from another team prior to the April 15 deadline.

      Once that date passed without an offer, June 1 became the next important day on the calendar. The Rams have insisted they want to sign Atogwe to a long-term contract and negotiations have occurred since before he was made the franchise player in 2009. The Rams remained in contact with Atogwe’s agent, Ken Landphere, during the holiday weekend.

      However, it has been clear the two sides are in disagreement over the value of a good, but not great, safety, and one who is coming off shoulder surgery and will turn 29 on June 23.

      If there is no agreement on a new deal Tuesday, the Rams have until 11 p.m. St. Louis time to increase his one-year tender to $6.976 million, a salary that would be guaranteed as soon as Atogwe signs it. If the Rams decide not to tender him at that level, he will become an unrestricted free agent.

      Several teams have been rumored as having interest in Atogwe, including Miami, Detroit, Dallas and San Francisco. It remains to be seen what value other teams place on Atogwe, but the Rams are hoping that value will be in line with theirs and that Atogwe will give them the opportunity to match the best offer he gets.

      The Rams’ in-limbo ownership situation does not appear to be a factor in the efforts to re-sign Atogwe because a contract for him was part of the overall budget set heading into the new league year. Of course, the value of that contract is in line with what the team believes he is worth.
      OTAs continue

      The Rams enter their third week of OTAs this week, with practices scheduled for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. The Wednesday and Friday sessions will be open to the media.
      -06-01-2010, 11:50 AM
    • r8rh8rmike
      Atogwe Hopes To Be Back After Release From Rams
      by r8rh8rmike
      Atogwe hopes to be back after release from Rams

      BY JIM THOMAS
      Saturday, February 19, 2011

      Even with his release Friday by the Rams, safety Oshiomogho Atogwe says he hasn't closed the door on a possible return to the team.

      "My agent and myself have established a really good negotiating relationship with them, so were we to do something again (with the Rams), I don't believe it'd be a difficult task," Atogwe told the Post-Dispatch. "Because there's no bad blood there. We should be able to get something done."

      The only problem — for several years — has been agreeing on Atogwe's value in terms of a multi-year deal. Rather than pay an $8 million roster bonus that was due Atogwe on Monday, the Rams released the six-year veteran.

      "It's disappointing to be back in this situation, again," Atogwe said. "Not being able to actually be set at this point in time in my career — it's disappointing."

      The relative security of a long-term contract has proven frustratingly elusive for Atogwe, a third-round round pick out of Stanford in 2005.

      "I'd say it's frustrating along the lines that I haven't been able to feel at home since my rookie contract," Atogwe said. "Where you say, OK this team wants me for the long haul, for the long term."

      Atogwe was franchised following the 2008 season, then in a wrinkle of the uncapped year, reverted back to restricted free agency following the 2009 season. As for this offseason, there's no doubt that the current labor impasse between players and owners, and pending lockout, have caused teams to be more conservative financially.

      "Yeah, it has been difficult," Atogwe said. "I think that's why it's very important for us to really get a CBA done, in place and secure, so that other guys won't have to go through a similar situation as myself. And that the teams can really move on in paying their bills and grow for the long term. But for me it's definitely frustrating. I'm thankful that I still have peace throughout this, knowing that it's going to work out the way it's supposed to."

      Because he is a released player, Atogwe is free to sign with any team immediately. However, if there is no collective bargaining agreement by March 4, no veteran players — even released players such as Atogwe — can sign new contracts at that time.

      So Atogwe has a 13-day window to shop the market, but he plans to wait until there's a new labor agreement before doing so.

      "I would say I'm just going to take this time to let God speak to me and go from there," Atogwe said. "I am going to wait till the market opens and then go from there."

      Besides the $8 million roster bonus, Atogwe was due a $3.5 million base salary with the Rams in 2011, meaning he would have been...
      -02-19-2011, 01:58 PM
    • AvengerRam_old
      Atogwe: How did we get here?
      by AvengerRam_old
      O.J. Atogwe has never come out and publicly complained about his contract. That does not, however, mean he has been reasonable in his demands.

      Let's review...

      Atogwe's first contract was a three-year deal signed after he was drafted in Round 3 of the 2005.

      In 2007, his rookie contract expired. At that point, Atogwe had become a very productive starter, having finished 2007 with 75 tackles and 8 interceptions. The Rams retained him with an RFA tender of about $2M. They likely did not push too had for a long term deal, given that they were negotiating with Steven Jackson at that time (signed just before the 2008 season).

      Last year, Atogwe became a UFA. Again, Atogwe was coming off a fine seaso (85 tackles, 5 interceptions,6 forced fumbles). The Rams tried to sign him to a long-term deal, even before the season ended. Ultimately, the Rams retained him with the franchise tag and paid Atogwe nearly $7M.

      I think its fair to say that, at that point, both sides were gambling. Had Atogwe accumulated similar stats in 2009 to those he had in 2007 and 2008, he might have made the Pro Bowl, and he'd clearly command elite FS money.

      Instead, Atogwe had a somewhat down season, and finished the year on injured reserve. He is now coming off two offseason surgeries.

      Given these circumstances, the Rams did no wish to tender Atogwe a sum that would lock him in, as doing so could result in paying $7M to a player who might not even be 100% healthy. Instead, the Rams made a low tender and retained a right of first refusal, hoping to sign Atogwe to a long term deal.

      Those efforts have, at this point, failed, and Atogwe is now a UFA.

      So... who's to blame?

      I'd say, nobody is. Both sides have behaved in a rational manner, applying varying degrees of risk aversion.

      In hindsight, I think one could argue that Atogwe waited too long. He should have signed a long-term deal in 2009 when his value was at its highest. Now, if he is seeking the kind of money he would have received then, he might not only be pricing himself out of the Rams' market, he might also be eliminating several other teams.

      I do think there is a reasnable middle ground that makes sense for both sides, but I don't know if they'll meet there. If not, I'm not going to blame anyone. I'll just wish Atogwe luck and hope the Rams find their answer at FS on the current roster or among the remaining FAs.
      -06-02-2010, 09:25 AM
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