The Philadelphia Eagles are close to announcing the signing of free agent safety O.J. Atogwe, who spent 2011 with the NFC East rival Washington Redskins, according to reports.
Atogwe may not be the safety in shining armor that some had hoped for, but he will be an important addition for the Birds who need veteran experience at safety.
The player texted ESPN radio’s Chris Russell to say that he had signed with Philadelphia on Tuesday, Russell stated on Twitter.
The team reached its maximum foster size of 90 on Monday with the claim of DE Monte Taylor. Accordingly, Atogwe’s signing must be accompanied by a corresponding cut to keep its size to 90.
Head coach Andy Reid has said that Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman are his starters at safety. The position was a known area of need that team did not fill during the draft or previously in free agency, though they made other attempts to bring in veteran help with LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, both of whom ended up signing with the Jets.
Backing up Coleman and Allen are Jaiquawn Jarrett, who is entering his second year with the team and will try to challenge Coleman for his starting spot; veteran and special teams player Tom Nelson; and Colt Anderson, currently rehabbing from an ACL injury. The team also signed rookie free agent Philip Thomas at the position out of Syracuse.
Atogwe (5’11, 205) has recorded at least three interceptions each season since 2006. He entered the league in 2005, when he was drafted from Stanford by the Rams, where he spend 6 years.
Atogwe was once regarded as one of the best safeties in the game, with 2007 being his stand out season. That year he notched eight INTs for 125 return yards and one touchdown. He was placed on IR at the end of the 2009 season with a surgery and was released by St. Louis in February of 2011.
Atogwe notched three interceptions in seven starts for the Redskins last year. He played in 13 games total. He struggled with hamstring and toe injuries hamstring and toe injuries last season.
The move is a calculated risk on the part of the Eagles but another smart offseason move. At 31 years of age, Atogwe is no doubt at the tail-end of his career. But if he stays healthy he can provide the Eagles with needed depth at the safety position and maybe, just maybe, give Coleman and Allen a run for their money for a starting job at Lehigh.