Rams safety O.J. Atogwe likely will become a free agent at midnight ET Tuesday.
Atogwe continues to negotiate with the Rams to retain his rights ahead of the deadline, but a deal isn’t imminent at this point — roughly three hours away — and isn’t expected, according to a league source.
The Rams also could keep Atogwe by giving him a one-year, guaranteed tender worth roughly $7 million, but that’s also unlikely. However, if Atogwe becomes an unrestricted free agent, that in no way precludes him from re-signing with St. Louis. The Rams will continue their efforts to sign him, according to sources.
Talks have been productive and cordial, according to multiple suitors. By tendering Atogwe low, the Rams displayed smart logic, buying themselves several months to try to work out a longer deal and also limiting the potential competition for him in June.
Consider: Many teams already have set their budgets, making it more difficult to work out a high-market deal now. Furthermore, the Giants spent big money on the position in free agency, and the Cardinals traded for a safety to replace departed Antrel Rolle. Several teams — the Seahawks, Eagles and Chiefs among them — drafted safeties high in April, and clubs generally are reluctant to spend heavily on the position.
So, if the Rams’ pursuit of Atogwe has to extend into June, there might be fewer suitors. And there is no animosity between the sides at all.
However, other teams that could pursue Atogwe include the Dolphins and Cowboys, who are among the biggest spenders in the NFL.