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Might the San Diego Chargers Target O.J. Atogwe in Free Agency?

Oshiomogho Atogwe, better known as O.J. Atogwe, is someone that I have my eye on for the San Diego Chargers in free agency, now for the third consecutive season. In 2010, O.J. was set to his free agency before being franchised by the St. Louis Rams and eventually signing a five-year deal for $32 million.

After the season, when teams were able to release players without it affecting the salary cap (known as "the JaMarcus Russell free buyout clause"), the Rams realized that they needed that money to invest in their offensive line to protect Sam Bradford and released Atogwe. He was quickly scooped up by the Redskins, after I wrote this post, for a slightly smaller five-year $25 million contract.

Today, the Redskins and Cowboys were punished by the NFL for front-loading contracts when there was no salary cap. Washington had had $34 million taken away from their salary cap in the next two seasons and Dallas has had $10 taken away, spread over the two years however the teams wish. Every other team, except the Saints and Raiders, have been awarded $1.6 million in additional salary cap space.

Due to this decision, the Redskins need to trim payroll. Atogwe's contract states that he has no guaranteed money in 2012 and, therefore, will count as $0 in dead money against Washington's cap if released. So that's exactly what the Redskins did.

Oshiomogho Atogwe

#20 / Free Agent



Jun 23, 1981

After the jump, we'll see if Atogwe might be a good fit for the Chargers.

In his five seasons before joining the Redskins, Atogwe started all but 5 games and racked up 21 interceptions. O.J. is similar to Eric Weddle in size and playmaking ability, but is older and is coming off a disappointing season with Washington where injuries and poor performance led to him losing his starting job in the first year of his big contract.

Signing Atogwe would mean a move to Strong Safety for Eric Weddle. We've always been told that the Chargers are okay with Weddle playing either FS or SS, and that he's equally good at both, but over the last two seasons he's become one of the best in the league at "roaming Center Field" and preventing big plays through the air. It probably wouldn't make much sense for him to move over to SS now.

Atogwe won't be playing SS in any other capacity then on 3rd & long, which Paul Oliver could probably do nearly as well for far less money. However, if he's willing to listen to a one-year contract (the Bob Sanders special!), you can't underestimate how much he'd help the cornerback on his side of the field. Pairing him with Weddle, Quentin Jammer, Antoine Cason and a strong pass rush would equal one of the best pass defenses in the league.