The June 1 deadline has come and gone, and safety OJ Atogwe is now officially an unrestricted free agent. I’m not at all surprised here, but for those of you who really like him (I’m raising my hand on that one), all hope is not lost. Reports are floating around that the Rams are still in serious talks with Atogwe’s people on a deal. Apparently there isn’t any animosity between the two sides, and I think it’s safe to say that St. Louis is still very much in the running.
Let’s take a look at some of the issues on both sides here. For the pro-Atogwe camp, the man is a born playmaker. From 2006-2008, he compiled 11 forced fumbles and 16 interceptions, which ranks him near the top of the NFL over that span. He is a smart guy, a Stanford guy, and he is well-liked in the locker room. For a team that has struggled so badly over the last few seasons, can we really afford to let a playmaker like this go?
In fairness, let’s now look at some of the arguments against bringing OJ back. First, he is coming off an injury to his shoulder and possibly a sports hernia, and the team can’t afford to invest heavily in a guy who is injury prone. Also, while his playmaking ability has never been in question, his tackling ability has. Everyone knows by now that he isn’t one of the heavy hitters, and he has been referred to as a “one-trick pony” by some.
Here are some names to keep an eye on as possible suitors besides the Rams in this sweepstakes. The big names being mentioned right now are the Cowboys, Dolphins, Vikings, and Lions. I could see Dallas being the biggest threat because of the “money is no object” approach, but Miami isn’t afraid to spend either if they like the guy enough. The Lions are interesting, as rumor has it that they are extremely interested. If Detroit gets OJ, they will just take another step in the right direction and separate themselves from St. Louis. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.