The St. Louis Rams will begin their voluntary offseason workout program on Monday, the earliest allowable starting date in the NFL, but veteran safety Oshiomogho Atogwe will not be volunteering to show up.
Atogwe will attend the NFL Players Association annual meeting in Hawaii, and when he returns he will rehabilitate his shoulder injury suffered at Chicago in December away from the team’s facility, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The report states that Atogwe plans to boycott the entire offseason after being tendered as a restricted free agent at the lowest possible level.
The problem for Atogwe is he was the Rams’ franchise player last season, earning $6.34 million. Under this low tender, he’ll take a pay cut of more than $5 million this season to $1.226 million. Here is a player who other players might want to listen to at the NFLPA convention. Atogwe can make a case that he’s feeling the brunt of the uncapped year and the rules that come with it for free agency more than any other player in the league. Unless the Rams strike a longterm deal for Atogwe or trade him to a team that will do that, it’s difficult to imagine this situation being resolved amicably.
Thomas notes that with the franchise tag, Atogwe fully participated in everything a year ago. The Rams’ strategy in giving Atogwe the low tender could be to have another team come in and sign him to an offer sheet hoping there won’t be a poison pill so the team can then match it. But that could backfire on them. When players sign offer sheets, they’re usually convinced the place they are signing with is their best destination. They typically don’t want to return to their previous team when the process has gone that far. Or it could be the Rams are dangling him in trade.
This is a player that people should listen to in Hawaii next week. He’s the poster boy for how the system is not treating the players fairly, the system agreed to by owners and players.
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