Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat breaks down Oshiomogho Atogwe's new contract with the Rams. The deal pays $4.1 million in guaranteed money to Atogwe in 2010, with no promises thereafter. That sounds about right. The team had refused to pay the $6.976 million Atogwe would have commanded if the team would have assigned a high tender to him as a restricted free agent. Atogwe had refused to sign the $1.226 million offer the Rams extended. Add $6.976 million to $1.226 million, divide by two and the total is $4.101 million -- what Atogwe will get under his new deal. Atogwe could earn more than $30 million if the Rams honored the full contract, but this appears to be a one-year deal dressed in fancy clothes. Expect the Rams to re-evaluate Atogwe's situation after the 2010 season. Atogwe needs to stay healthy and resume the ball hawking ways that made him a franchise player previously.
Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with Seahawks receiver Ben Obomanu. Williams: "At 6-foot, 206 pounds Obomanu has decent size. He’s not a burner, but possesses enough speed to get deep and create separation against man defense. He’s got great hands, and is a good blocker in the run game. He’s a smart receiver who can read defenses and find a soft spot in a zone. Essentially, Obomanu is a good, all-around receiver who does not do one thing particularly well." Obomanu, a seventh-round choice in 2006, hopes to pattern himself after teammate T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who also entered the NFL as a seventh-rounder.
Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com profiles Seattle defensive backs coach Jerry Gray. Farnsworth: "Gray not only was a two-time All-American and Southwest Conference defensive player of the year for the Longhorns, he set the school record with 28 career interceptions and was named to the school’s all-time team as well as Texas’ All-Decade team for the 1980s. Gray took only two recruiting trips -- to Colorado and Texas. Austin already had a recruiting boot in the door, because Gray had competed there for three years at the state track and field championships while attending Estacado High School."
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times suggests the Seahawks probably offered Kevin Ellison a split contract designed to protect the team in case of injury.
Jon Kraczynski of the Associated Press reports from Larry Fitzgerald's training sessions in Minneapolis. Kraczynski: "What started as a group of about five or six players a few years ago has swelled to about 40 athletes, all working on an efficient and demanding routine that lasts for three weeks. Greg Jennings, Brandon Marshall and Sidney Rice have participated in the past. On Tuesday, Green Bay tight end Jermichael Finley, Seattle rookie Golden Tate, New Orleans defensive back Malcolm Jenkins, St. Louis linebacker James Laurinaitis and Vikings quarterback Tarvaris Jackson were among those in the group, which changes from week to week." It's a good sign when young players take the initiative to put in the extra work. Working with Fitzgerald has to help Tate in particular. Training in a competitive setting is a plus.
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says rookie Dan Williams continues to push himself on the conditioning front. Nose tackles aren't always symbols of fitness, so this is a welcome development from the Cardinals' perspective and another indication strength-and-conditioning coach John Lott is getting his message across. Urban: "Williams has taken Lott’s preaching to heart, including the idea that, if Williams sheds a few more pounds it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. Regardless, Williams has proven himself a steady worker. Anxious to play football with pads again and also to prove himself to the coaching staff, football has been constant since the end of the college season but that’s OK too."
Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com takes a look at 49ers players possibly in line for contract extensions. Maiocco on Vernon Davis: "Nothing changed in Davis' game last year -- only the perception of his game. The major difference was that offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye used him as a route-runner, not a blocker, in the passing game. As a result, Davis posted exceptional numbers: 78 catches, 965 yards, 13 TDs. Davis is seeking to become the highest-paid tight end in the league at $8 million per season, NFL sources say. It's doubtful the 49ers will go that high."