Gauging the Chargers' Interest in Free Agent Safeties

ST. LOUIS - OCTOBER 31: Oshiomogho Atogwe #21 of the St. Louis Rams returns an interception against the Carolina Panthers at the Edward Jones Dome on October 31 2010 in St. Louis Missouri. The Rams beat the Panthers 20-10. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

It's not often that I find myself disagreeing with a Kevin Acee article, but this morning I was shaking my head while reading Acee's report on the Chargers interest (or lack there of) in Free Agent Safeties Bob Sanders and O.J. Atogwe. Here's why:

The fact that the Chargers have not made contact with the representatives for free agent safeties Bob Sanders or O.J. Atogwe makes the team’s interest level pretty clear, if you pay attention to how Chargers General Manager A.J. Smith works. If he wants someone, he acts fast. An offer would already have been made if Smith was hot for Sanders or Atogwe.

To this, my original thought response was "Wait....is he serious?" Who is signing Free Agents these days, a week or less away from the NFL Lockout? The answer to that is very close to "nobody". Here's the entire list of players that have been signed by teams other than their own so far this offseason: Erik Coleman (Lions) and Rashad Jeanty (Eagles).

If A.J. Smith (and Dean Spanos) have made anything abundantly clear, it's that they do not like negotiating a contract without knowing the environment they'll be in under the new CBA. I assumed this was the reason guys like Mike Tolbert were still Free Agents and not inked to long-term deals with the Chargers.

Also, do not forget about Weddle. What kind of message would it send him if the Chargers were out there offering a contract to Atogwe before re-signing Weddle (or their other impending Free Agents)? If I were him in that situation, I'd be a little annoyed that the team was pointing their attention at adding a new Safety and not appreciating the one they already have.

The Chargers' only player personnel transactions thusfar have been to re-sign practice squad guys to Reserve/Future contracts and slap Vincent Jackson with the Franchise Tag. Here's a list of guys I'm sure A.J. Smith will be trying to sign long before he thinks about making an offer to Atogwe or Sanders:

Billy Volek
Mike Tolbert
Darren Sproles
Malcom Floyd
Randy McMichael
Jeromey Clary
Scott Mruczkowski
Stephen Cooper
Kevin Burnett
Brandon Siler
Eric Weddle

Once they start getting signed I'll buy the argument of "If he hasn't spoken with Atogwe's guys yet, you know he's not interested." Right now? Not so much.

Also, it speaks volumes that the only teams that have brought in Atogwe (the more valuable of the two discussed Safeties) are the Redskins (who bring in every Free Agent under the sun) and the Bills (who are desperately trying to rebuild quickly with some solid free agent signings). Nobody is making a move until this CBA situation is figured out, especially not A.J. Smith.

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