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Thursday, March 4, 2010
Rams had tough options on Atogwe

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Oshiomogho Atogwe's contract with the Rams would have been guaranteed for nearly $7 million had the team offered more than the $1.226 million minimum for restricted free agents.

That left the Rams with two choices, neither ideal.

They could either offer Atogwe less than what he's worth, possibly damaging the relationship even while freeing Atogwe to solicit offers, with the Rams receiving nothing in return if they decided against matching whatever the market brought.

Or the Rams could have offered 110 percent of Atogwe's 2009 franchise salary, which was about $6.3 million, with "all other contract terms" carrying over from last season, when the salary was guaranteed.

The gulf between $1.226 million non-guaranteed and nearly $7 million guaranteed is a massive one. But those were the Rams' choices. I understand their decision because Atogwe, while a good player, has not been a dominant one, and he's coming off an injury.

The NFL is now operating under provisions for an uncapped year. This is new territory. We've never seen a franchise player become a restricted free agent. I'm learning as the process unfolds. The teams and agents are also learning.

At some point, we could see teams and agents challenging rules interpretations. It's that confusing.