- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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So a report on SportsNet up in Canada, which is where O.J. Atogwe is from, said Tuesday morning that the veteran safety has agreed to a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles. Atogwe, who played for the Washington Redskins last year, appears to have confirmed this to Chris Russell of ESPN Radio 980 in Washington. So it looks as though Atogwe will be an Eagle in 2012, and the first question is, as always, "Why?"
The answer, I believe, is not to be a starting player or challenge for a starting spot. Atogwe will turn 31 on Saturday, and he struggled with injuries last year in Washington and actually looked kind of slow when he was on the field. You don't sign Atogwe at this point in his career to be a starting safety on a team that expects to contend for a championship. If he were still that kind of player, he wouldn't still be available on June 19.
So I don't think this move says anything about Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman as the Eagles' starting safeties, and I don't agree with the idea that it means the Eagles are suddenly down on 2011 second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett. The Eagles have been looking to add a veteran safety for some time now -- they tried on Yeremiah Bell before he signed with the Jets -- and their motivation appears to be roster depth and to add someone with some experience so they're not quite so young at the position. Atogwe is an intelligent veteran who can be a sounding board for the Eagles' young safeties and, at the very least, a competent replacement if one of them struggles irretrievably or gets hurt.
If Atogwe sees significant playing time for the Eagles in 2012, something will have gone very wrong with their current plan. But if deployed strategically, both on the field and in the meeting room, he can be an asset in certain situations. The Redskins brought him in to be a starter last year, and he's not far removed from his most productive seasons. It's just that, at this point in his career, he's not a big-splash guy. He's a piece of the puzzle, and one for which the Eagles have been searching for some time.