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The truth on O.J. Atogwe’s deal

Image (2) NFL_atogwe1_250-thumb-250x185-15307.jpg for post 78592

In many player contracts, the agent leaks to the media an inflated value for the deal, and the team rarely corrects the information.

The team chooses to remain silent because the team wants the player to think he got a great deal. If the team puts the truth out, the player could end up thinking his deal wasn’t quite so good, making him more inclined to press for another one sooner rather than later.

In the case of Rams safety O.J. Atogwe, who became a free agent on June 1 when the team opted not to re-issue a restricted free agency tender since the rules of the labor deal would have required the Rams to offer a guaranteed salary of nearly $7 million, his five-year, $32 million contract contains plenty of smoke and more than a few mirrors.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and the Sports Xchange reports that the deal has a practical value of one year, $4.1 million.

Indeed, the contract contains no guaranteed money beyond 2010, and an $8 million roster bonus due in February 2011, which means the money would be paid before the current labor deal expires -- and thus before any potential work stoppage arises. Balzer reports that the deal contains terms that will void the final four years of the contract.

From Atogwe’s perspective, the deal most likely puts him back on the open market in 2011, when there possibly will be more interest in free agents. He found little or no interest when he became a free agent last month.

Regardless of what Atogwe may get in the future, his most recent contract isn’t nearly as good as advertised, and it doesn’t provide anything close to the long-term security that the initial reports implied.