Heralded free agent safety Oshiomogho Atogwe spent almost all of Sunday’s loss to the Patriots on the bench. He insists that he was healthy enough to play but for all but a handful of snaps he watched rookie DeJon Gomes play his free safety position.
Given this development, questions have to be asked about Atogwe’s future with the Redskins.
The Redskins signed him to a five-year, $26 million contract last March, just before the NFL lockout started. According to one source, the deal has $9.4 million in guaranteed money. However, about $7.4 million of that guaranteed money has been paid and was charged against the 2011 cap.
He also has $2 million of his 2012 salary guaranteed, but for injury only. In other words, if the Redskins decide to cut him loose there would be only minimal, if any, charges against future salary caps.
But just because they could cut him does not mean that it would be a good idea. Yes, he has been a little banged up this year. But it is not as though he has a history of injuries. From 2006 through last year he missed just four games, those due to a dislocated shoulder in 2009. Other than that, he started 75 of a possible 76 games.
Few players have created more turnovers than Atogwe since he came into the league. He has 23 career interceptions and he has forced 16 fumbles. On a team that is in bad need of getting some more takeaways, that is a needed skill.
Atogwe is due to make $3.4 million in each of the next two seasons with workout and roster bonuses that could boost his total compensation to $4 million per year. That is not cheap but it’s hardly outrageous. The smartest thing to do would be to give him this offseason to recover from his various nagging injuries and give him a full program of training, minicamps, and OTA’s with the defense. Then see if he can remain healthy and how he performs.
He will be 31 by the time training camp starts. If he regains his old form, or at least most of it, he should be good for another two or three years. If he doesn’t they can let him go with zero cap consequences and move on.