Yesterday was Memorial Day, a day where Americans everywhere remember, honor, and celebrate the sacrifices of those who give their lives to protect us. We gave up work and school to visit cemeteries, watch parades, play badminton, and eat sausage, all while remembering those who gave their lives so we’d be free.
For a small fraction of America, though, today is O.J. Atogwe day—the day we skimp on work and school to cross fingers, light candles, murmur incantations, and refresh football websites, seeing what’s going on with St. Louis Rams safety O.J. Atogwe.
According to Brian Stull of toastedrav.com, the Rams continue to negotiate with Atogwe, and will up to and beyond midnight tonight. For those not already pounding F5 on Pro Football Talk, Atogwe is a restricted free agent, due a one-year tender offer worth 110% of last year’s salary. However, since the Rams made Atogwe their franchise player last season, he raked in an average of the top five safeties’ salaries for 2009. 110% of his 2009 salary is nearly seven million dollars.
Even if Atogwe were worth that kind of money for 2010—and, coming off shoulder surgery, that’s questionable—the Rams are in rebuilding mode. Paying Atogwe that kind of money, just to be right back in this same situation next year, doesn’t make sense. The Rams would love to him lock up to a long-term deal, but it doesn’t sound like that’s close. If it doesn’t get done by midnight, he’ll become an unrestricted free agent.
Note the following line from Stull’s article:
Dallas, Miami, and Jacksonville are all reportedly interested in Atogwe, but none signed him to an offer sheet prior to the April 15th deadline.
Note the significant absence of the word “Detroit” in there. As I’ve said before, the “vibe” I get is that the Lions broke the bank on Vanden Bosch and Burleson—and were willing to do so because the coaching staff knew them so well. Despite being just into his prime (he’ll be playing his sixth season, at age 29), and a perfect fit for the skill set the Lions need, I will be stunned if Jim Schwartz is on Atogwe’s doorstep with a Fathead and a bottle of vino at midnight.
Further, if Dallas and Miami are involved, the Lions are going to have serious competition: two teams with deep pockets and winning rosters, looking for that last piece, in an uncapped year. It’s true that Atogwe is from Windsor, and grew up rooting for the Lions, but business is business, and this is Atogwe’s job, not hobby.
This will likely be Atogwe’s first, and last, giant long-term deal. If he signs a five-year contract, he’ll be 34 at the end of it, and playing a position where speed is crucial. Further, he’ll probably be making ridiculous, back-loaded money. If he even sees the end of that deal, he won’t be a hot commodity for 2015. He may, or may not, play elsewhere for a year or two after that—but in terms of big money, this is it.
For all these reasons, I don’t see the Lions as major players for his services . . . but I’m crossing my fingers anyway.