Updated June 24, 2010 @ 1:49 a.m. ET
The Rams’ prolonged contract impasse with starting FS O.J. Atogwe came to an abrupt halt early Wednesday afternoon when the team announced it had agreed to a multiyear deal with its most accomplished defensive playmaker. NFL.com reported that the contract is for five years and is worth a maximum of $32 million.
With leaguewide interest in Atogwe, who officially had become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the month, surprisingly limited, the news of his signing did not come as a big surprise.
“We are excited to have O.J. back in the fold,” Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “We were always hopeful for this result. We look forward to having his leadership, character and talent back on our defense.”
Atogwe, who is entering his sixth season with the Rams, has played in 72 career games, starting 60 consecutive contests since the start of the 2006 season. In 2009, he started 12 games before being placed on the reserved/injured list with a shoulder injury Dec. 9. Despite missing four games, Atogwe finished second on the team with 82 tackles (38 solo), one sack, two interceptions, three passes defensed, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries.
“It’s really important to stay here,” said Atogwe in an official team release. “That was one of the things I was thinking about through this process is my purpose with the Rams. I have been here through a lot of the hard times, and I believe that was to build the resolve within me, build the resolve within my teammates so when the promised land arrives, we’d be able to enjoy it and know how to be thankful for it.”
Atogwe has notched 38 combined forced fumbles and interceptions (19 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles) since the start of 2006, the most in the NFL during that time period. In 2007, he recorded a career-high and NFC-leading eight interceptions, and since the start of 2006, his 19 interceptions rank fourth in the NFL.
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