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Back in March at the Owner’s Meetings in an interview, Andy Reid admitted that the Eagles made a mistake by not addressing the safety position properly last season. Many were shocked when the Eagles didn’t take a safety high in last April’s NFL Draft after the previous two season taking a safety both in the 2nd round. But the Eagles had a plan all along.
On Tuesday ESPN 980 in Washington reported, Eagles signed the soon to be 31 year old Safety OJ Atogwe to a contract. In 2011 with the Washington Redskins, he recorded 60 combine tackles and three interceptions in 13 games(8 starts). In his eight year career and spending his first seven seasons with the St Louis Rams, he produced 450 combine tackles, 25 interceptions, and 16 forced fumbles. He signed a 5yr, $26 million contract last season and was let go after a poor 2011 but this could really play dividends for the Eagles.
The 5-11 205lbs safety isn’t expected to come in here and be a savior for this squad. He won’t even be a starter day one in my opinion. But it is a smart option for the Eagles to bring in a veteran that knows the game and at one time one of the biggest playmakers in the game. His ability to stay healthy has hurt him the most. But he provides that insurance if things really get bad with Nate Allen who has had injury issues of his own, Kurt Coleman who only has shown to be a role player, and last year 2nd round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett who still needs time to develop.
This is a move that many wanted to happen last season and we saw how dreadful the safety positon was a year ago, but the price tag was too much in a lockout offseason and addressing the position high in the draft two straight seasons. He has lost a step from the old OJ we have seen but if fully healthy he can still be a productive player for this defense. He doesn’t have that quickness or burst we once saw but can be a tackling machine and a ball hawk.
He gives the position depth and a sign of relief a bit since not many have confidence in the group that the Eagles put on the field last season. I do expect him to push for playing time and with one of the best secondary coaches in the game, Todd Bowles. He has the knowledge on how to use him effectively. I see him used a lot in passing downs in zone coverage. Right now that is his strength and helps a weakness on this defense in the passing game. Even though it’s a year too late, this is still a smart move and shows they want to improve every weakness. It is a low risk, high reward type of deal. If everything pans out, it could be one of the best free agent signings this season, if not then not a lot is lost.
Update: The Deal has not been made official but is pretty much set per sources. Eagles are at roster limit of 90 and are deciding what to do to make room for Atogwe.