Sources: Rams Still Favorites for Atogwe; Dolphins in Pursuit
The Rams want Atogwe back. They just didn't want to pay him the $6.976 million tender it would have taken to keep him off the open market. The two sides negotiated right up until the Tuesday night deadline and continued to speak Wednesday, and they may eventually come to a deal that pays Atogwe less than $6.976 million but more than the $1.226 million St. Louis offered. The risk, of course, is that now another team can come in and beat the offer, and the second source said Miami was motivated to do so.
What didn't happen Wednesday was the flood of offers for which Atogwe and his agent had been hoping to help them with their leverage. Teams such as the Cowboys, Lions, 49ers, Eagles and even the ever-active Jets had been thought of as potential suitors, but none of those teams appeared to be making a serious pursuit Wednesday. One of the sources said the Minnesota Vikings remained a possibility, but that it appeared to be a contest between the Rams and Dolphins, with the Rams in the lead.
Atogwe is three weeks short of his 29th birthday and coming off an injury-plagued 2009 in which a shoulder problem cost him the final four games of the season. In the first 12 games, however, he was an effective and consistent defensive player. The Rams have precious few of those, which is why they remain interested in bringing him back. But they're also going to need plenty of money to sign No. 1 overall pick Sam Bradford, so they couldn't afford to spend $7 million on a 29-year-old safety coming off shoulder injury.