It’s rare to see top-quality players still in their prime hitting the free agent market in June. But thanks to uncommon stipulations put forth by the uncapped year, this scenario has played out with free safety O.J. Atogwe. One of the better ballhawks in football (statistically speaking) is available, and seemingly every GM who doesn’t already have Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins, Eric Berry, Antoine Bethea, Darren Sharper or Nick Collins on their roster has had to field questions about the six-year pro.
This includes Bears GM Jerry Angelo. Since Mike Brown left, the Bears have fruitlessly shuffled safeties in hopes of finding the right fit. They seem destined to do so again this year, though don’t expect Atogwe to be part of the shuffle. Here’s what Angelo told the team’s website today:
“[Atogwe] is a good football player. We’ve evaluated him and we like him. But at this point, we’re set. We drafted Major Wright and traded for Chris Harris. We also have Danieal Manning, Craig Steltz and Josh Bullocks, all of whom have started in this league. We have five pretty good safeties, four of whom have a goodly amount of experience within our scheme. We feel good about that position.”
Though the Bears probably won’t sign Atogwe, let’s shake out the nonsense in Angelo’s statements.
First off, this is the same Jerry Angelo who, days before cutting Nathan Vasher, said he would not cut Nathan Vasher. (He even gave a logical explanation, which was that the cornerback had already been paid most of his money.) Can you blame Angelo for misleading the media here? No, it’s part of his job. But because of this, we have to take a heavy grain of salt with everything he says. In this Atogwe case, Angelo is talking to ChicagoBears.com. Think there’s a lot of hard-hitting journalists and muckrakers working for that site? The GM can say whatever he wants and not be pressed for accountability.
As for the statement itself, Angelo is right about Major Wright and Chris Harris being viable pieces. Wright, like any rookie at this point, is an enigma, but the Bears drafted him to start at free safety. Harris is a punishing hitter who knows the scheme.
But Angelo is blowing smoke when he talks about Manning, Steltz and Bullocks. These men are NOT quality safeties. If they were, Wright and Harris wouldn’t have been brought in. These three safeties all have starting experience, but only because none of them could keep a starting job. They’ve spent years rotating in and out of the lineup with each other.
Again, it’s the GM’s job to paint a rosy picture. But with no games being played to expose the falsity of these rosy pictures right now, we’re compelled to write snarky blogs when our B.S. detector goes off.
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