The Rams have three ways forward with safety OJ Atogwe on the fast approaching date of June 1st:
1. Sign Atogwe to a $7 million restricted free agent tender
2. Release Atogwe to become an unrestricted free agent.
3. Sign Atogwe to a long-term deal.
The Rams are also probably relying on a combination of 2 and 3 in which Atogwe tests the free agent market, but finds that a multi-year $7 million deal is not out there for him and returns to sign a long term deal with the Rams. The Miami Dolphins should be interested in his services, but it is unknown how high a price they are willing to pay for him.
Additionally, the Rams could get Atogwe to sign his tender on the condition that they would then trade him to another team. That other team would then negotiate a multi-year deal with Atogwe. However, after June 1st, that option would be off the table with Atogwe a free agent.
The Rams, smartly, value Atogwe at less than $7 million a year. The Rams have signed safety Craig Dahl to a 3 year deal and just traded for safety Kevin Payne, so they have the depth behind Atogwe if he were to leave. Another thing to consider is this from Kevin Payne via Turf Show Times:
A lot of defenses within the St. Louis Rams’ packages require the safeties be interchangeable – meaning that they could both play the middle, and both come down in the box.
Atogwe is a traditional ball hawk free safety and it is possible that the Rams need a safety that is more flexible than what Atogwe can provide. They probably still like him as a player and would love to have him on the team, but are not going to give into his $7 million a year demands.
If I were into prognosticating, I would guess that Atogwe hits free agency and finds the money less than he hoped and returns to the Rams.