Oshiomogho Atogwe wasn't on the market for long.
Three weeks after he became an unrestricted free agent, the veteran safety went back to his old team, the
St. Louis Rams, signing a multiyear deal that was announced Wednesday. Terms weren't disclosed, but Atogwe said he received a five-year contract, and a league source told NFL Network insider Jason La Canfora that it's worth a maximum of $32 million.
"This is where my work is still to be done," Atogwe said during a conference call with reporters. "My purpose of being in St. Louis was not completed, and coming back and being with my teammates meant a lot to me."
Atogwe, who turned 29 on Wednesday, has started 60 of 72 career games. He has developed a reputation for ball-hawking skills, with 19 career interceptions and 19 forced fumbles.
Last season, Atogwe was second on the Rams with 74 tackles, despite missing the final four games with a shoulder injury. He also had one sack, two interceptions, three passes defended, three forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. He had eight interceptions in 2007 and five in 2008.
"We were always hopeful for this result," Spagnuolo said. "We look forward to having his leadership, character and talent back on our defense."
Atogwe hit the market after failing to reach a multiyear contract and the Rams declined to sign him to a one-year tender for $6.98 million, Atogwe's salary for last year plus 10 percent. But in an uncapped year, with uncertainty about the future labor situation in the NFL, offers didn't pour in for the safety.
Atogwe said he spoke casually with other teams. But, he said, the possibility of a lockout in 2011 appeared to be a stumbling point for him and other players.
"I believe that shaped a lot of negotiations, a lot of interest in this 2010 free-agency period," Atogwe said. "It's real, and I believe a lot of players now who are looking to get extensions, looking to do long-term deals, are actually feeling the brunt, feeling the impact of that coming."
Atogwe didn't participate in the Rams' offseason conditioning program, and he didn't attend organized team activities in May and June. He said he's healthy but still must be cleared by team doctors before participating in training camp, which begins in about a month.
Atogwe, a native of Windsor, Ontario, played in college at Stanford and was chosen by the Rams in the third round (66th overall) in the 2005 draft.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.