Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' decision to offer Oshiomogho Atogwe the lowest possible tender might not go over well in the locker room. Thomas: "It's doubtful the move will go over big in the locker room. With 10 days to go before the start of the team's offseason conditioning program, Rams players remain scattered all over the country. But one player's reply to the move, via text message Thursday, was: 'What!!!' " The Rams either had to offer $1.226 million non-guaranteed or more than $6.9 million guaranteed. Their decision reveals the team's true feelings for Atogwe. The Rams like him, but only so much. They do not consider him to be a franchise cornerstone or they would have paid him the higher number. In other Rams news, Thomas notes that Marc Bulger and Richie Incognito were at Rams Park.
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Atogwe's representatives knew the team would not offer the higher number, which almost would have amounted to naming Atogwe their franchise player for a second consecutive season. Balzer: "The Rams have been trying to reach a long-term agreement with Atogwe since last year when he was the team’s franchise player, but Kevin Demoff, the Rams executive vice president of football operations/chief operating officer, said, 'I have met numerous times with his representative at the combine and Senior Bowl and they knew we weren’t going to franchise him again. We just haven’t been able to agree on his value. We are hoping market forces come into play and help get a deal done.' "
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals hope to re-sign Antrel Rolle even as the safety tests the market. Somers: "Rolle was good but not great last year in his second season at safety after moving from cornerback. He was a Pro Bowl alternate and played in the game after several other safeties backed out. But Rolle is a player who should continue improving in years to come. The eighth overall pick in the 2005 draft, Rolle struggled at cornerback for three seasons before moving to free safety."
Also from Somers: Cardinals safety Matt Ware could have a visit planned to an unnamed NFC West rival.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com quotes Karlos Dansby as telling ESPN he plans to visit the Dolphins.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers re-signed veteran linebacker Matt Wilhelm. Barrows: "Wilhelm, 29, was added last year to fill in for Jeff Ulbrich after Ulbrich suffered a career-ending concussion in an early-season game against St. Louis."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat provides a quick overview of protocol in free agency. Maiocco: "The 49ers are expected to take it slow and easy in free agency. The club is not expected to schedule any free-agent visits over the weekend. And there's a better-than-even chance the 49ers will not gather any starters during the free-agent signing period."
Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says this about the 49ers' draft plans: "What we know about McCloughan: He values game performance over combine measurements. Last year, ultra-productive Michael Crabtree was nursing a broken foot and didn't run at the combine, which surprisingly made him available for the 49ers, who were picking 10th. Crabtree held out for several months, but when he showed up to play, he produced."
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says he would be "shocked" if the team drafted two offensive linemen in the first round. Farnsworth: "The line (Alex) Gibbs had in 2004 with the Atlanta Falcons 'featured' a fourth-round draft choice, a trio of seventh-rounders and a player they signed in free agency – former Seahawk Todd Weiner, who was a second-round pick. The Falcons led the league in rushing for three consecutive seasons without having a first-round pick on their line. Gibbs looks for smart, mobile, athletic players, even if they don’t fit the prototype when it comes to height and weight."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times confirms Nate Burleson's departure from the Seahawks to the Lions. O'Neil: "Burleson said repeatedly his hope was to remain in Seattle, his hometown and where he attended O'Dea High School. He wasn't offered a contract he found satisfactory. Free agency began at 9 p.m. Pacific on Thursday. By 11, he had a deal in Detroit."
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune says the Seahawks appeared to take a slow approach to free agency Thursday night.