by Matt Bowen
June 10, 02010
According to Steve Wyche of NFL.com, free-agent safety O.J. Atogwe is not seeking an “outrageous” number or upfront bonus money when it comes to a contract — and the Rams are still hopeful that they can find a way to bring the safety back to town.
Would it be a big move for the Rams? Of course, as they need players and they need playmakers on that defense. Losing Atogwe is not the ideal situation for that secondary in St. Louis and the franchise in general.
However, why not Detroit? The Lions have been mentioned in league circles as a possible landing spot for Atogwe, and the way I see it, this is a franchise that has made multiple positive moves this offseason. Is there a reason not to make another move here?
Think about what Jim Schwartz and the Lions brass have accomplished. They opened free agency and addressed some needs along the defensive line with the trade for DT Corey Williams and the addition of DE Kyle Vanden Bosch. Plus, they added a player at wide receiver in Nate Burleson.
Maybe not the biggest names on the market, but players that are upgrades. The draft? Maybe the best overall player coming out in Nebraska DT Ndamukong Suh and the trade back into the first round for RB Jahvid Best. Two names that will be expected to contribute and produce as rookies.
The Lions have generated a buzz with their moves so far, and when you look at the safety position in Detroit, adding a player such as Atogwe — who can work alongside Louis Delmas — looks like a solid play from my point of view. I am a big fan of Delmas, and I do think he can continue to develop into one of the top-tier safeties in the NFL.
But when you look at the other safety spot and Ko Simpson, it is hard to argue that Atogwe wouldn’t be an upgrade. I played with Simpson in Buffalo. I like his range and do think he has the potential to make plays on the football. While he is a nice football player, he has limitations and still needs to develop as a pro safety. But, Atogwe has shown that ability already, and when we talk about a team such as Detroit, it is about improving your roster.
Let’s call it like it is: Atogwe is a good safety that has top-level ball skills. He is not an Ed Reed or a Troy Polamalu when it comes to overall impact on the game and the way offenses prepare for Sundays. But, then again, who is when we put those two names up there for a comparison?
And, if you are Schwartz, this is a rare opportunity to find a safety that can produce turnovers in the month of June — without a contract in hand.
I thought there would be more hype for Atogwe once he hit the market, and ending up back in St. Louis for a smaller price tag is a real possibility. But, that doesn’t discount the opportunity here for Detroit to make another improvement to a roster that is starting to take shape.
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