Low tender changes Atogwe's approach

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe will stay away from the team's offseason program after receiving the lowest tender for restricted free agents, a departure from last offseason.

This is the right decision by Atogwe. He earned praise last offseason for participating in the offseason program and minicamp practices even though he didn't immediately sign his $6.3 million offer as a franchise player.

"It's a blessing to come out here and play," Atogwe told reporters during minicamps last offseason. "And to be thought of as one of the top five at my position is an honor. I relish this."

There was a lot less for Atogwe to relish this offseason when the Rams made him a one-year offer for $1.226 million. The alternative was a one-year offer for nearly $7 million. With Atogwe coming off injury and an ownership change pending, the Rams hedged their bets on him.

The contrast from last offseason is striking from all angles.

"I don't have to be [here] contractually," Atogwe said a year ago, "but I feel like I'm obligated to be here for my teammates and for my coaches. Going forward in this year, if I want to be a part of this team, I want to be a part of this team from the beginning to the end and I think it's important that we all put aside our own personal stuff and just really sacrifice for the team. Put the team first and allow us to come together as one unit so we can get a lot done this year."

That was then. Circumstances have changed. Atogwe has nothing to gain from showing up and risking potential injury after the team has dramatically downgraded its commitment to him. He'll now wait until June, when rules require the Rams to increase their offer into the $7 million range or let him become a free agent.