For better or worse, the Rams' stance on FS O.J. Atogwe has remained the same. While there are many league observers who have had a hard time understanding why the Rams haven't gone more out of their way to assure the return of the defense's most proven playmaker by a wide margin, it always has been a simple matter of dollars and cents.
The way we've been hearing it from team insiders for months now, Atogwe has been angling for a new contract similar to the one ex-Cardinals FS Antrel Rolle received from the Giants in early March (five years for $37 million, $15 million guaranteed). The Rams, meanwhile, have been focused on a deal that would pay somewhere between $4-5 million annually, Atogwe's impressive playmaking accomplishments notwithstanding. Judging by the surprising lack of interest in Atogwe since he officially became an unrestricted free agent on June 1, it appears the rest of the league agrees more with the Rams on Atogwe's relative worth.
"I am a little surprised that he hasn't signed elsewhere yet," said one team insider of Atogwe. "He did have the (season-ending) shoulder injury last year, but I don't think that's been a big hang-up. It really just looks like a case of teams thinking he is asking for way too much money." With that in mind, the likelihood that Atogwe might stick with the Rams, after all is said and done, has increased, although it remains quite possible a serious suitor could suddenly materialize in the coming days.
How would Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo feel if Atogwe did end up signing with another team? "He's a good football player, and I don't like to lose good football players, but we move on," Spagnuolo said in early June. "It would be no different than if somebody got hurt, and it happened last year when O.J. had the shoulder injury, and we move on.
"Everybody in the building knows what the wants and needs are and who the people are and what they mean to the team. All of that is factored in. ... But it's a process. It's the business side of the business."
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