Atogwe deal is a win for St. Louis

According to reports, free-agent safety O.J. Atogwe is heading back to St. Louis after he agreed to a multi-year deal with the club.

Good for the Rams and their future?

Of course, this is a win in their minds because they need players — multiple players — for them to start winning and to compete in the NFC West. Losing out on Atogwe would have been a blow to not only their secondary, but also their young defense in general under Steve Spagnuolo. You can’t lose productive players when you are rebuilding a franchise from the ground up, as they are doing in St. Louis. And, you can’t lose defensive players who force turnovers when you might be playing a rookie QB in Sam Bradford come the regular season.

Those young QBs need help, and you do that by creating field position. Atogwe can provide that (as he has shown in the past), and I expect him to do it again for the Rams this year.

But, I have to admit that I thought there would be more interest in Atogwe. When we look at teams who could have used an upgrade at the free safety position — Miami, Dallas, Minnesota, Detroit — didn’t it make sense for them to at least entertain Atogwe, bring him in for a visit and contemplate a multiyear offer? As I have written before, teams in the NFL pay for players who get their hands on the football.

There is a reason that the Saints were willing to re-sign a player like Darren Sharper. A player who struggles tackling in the open field, but a guy you can count on to make big plays for your defense.

I have no problem admitting that I am high on Atogwe’s game, because if I am running a team, I want players in my secondary who have ball instincts — because they are so crucial to a team’s success.

But, as I was told by one high-level NFL executive this week, there are teams who didn’t want to spend the money right now on Atogwe — and see him as an average player.

Debatable? For sure, but that is all a moot point now with Atogwe back in a Rams uniform. And that is a good thing for St. Louis. You never want to lose a player when he is productive for you.

Update: According to Jason La Canfora of NFL.com, Atogwe signed a five-year deal that can max out at a total value of $32 million.

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