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Buyer beware: The case of O.J. Atogwe

Almost every day, the Salguero inbox includes a couple of questions about the Dolphins' chase of free safety Oshiomogho "O.J." Atogwe. To which I respond, what chase?

Atogwe is property of the St. Louis Rams at the moment. The Dolphins cannot chase him without permission from the Rams because the player is an unsigned restricted free agent at a time the restricted free agency period has passed.

Yes, there is a chance Atogwe will become an unrestricted free agent at some point in the next month if he and the Rams cannot come to contract terms after June 1 when his restricted tender expires. The NFL Network has reported Atogwe will not sign his tender which is obvious at this point. But what is not often said is that the Rams probably aren't going to go quietly into the night without trying to keep Atogwe by signing him to a long-term contract.

Let's assume for a minute, however, that Atogwe's days with the Rams are over. If that is the case, the thing that needs to be said is this: Buyer beware.

Atogwe, you see, had a great season in 2008 when he had a team- and NFC-high eight interceptions. But last year was a bad one for him and it ended prematurely in December when Atogwe was placed on injured reserve with a dislocated right shoulder.

The shoulder required reconstructive surgery which is major surgery. Atogwe is still working to recover from the surgery, according to reports. He also reportedly suffered a sports hernia that he is trying to come back from as well.

So how would you feel about paying top-dollar for a player coming back from two significant injuries, particularly when one is a shoulder injury?

Obviously any Dolphins' interest will have to be tempered by how confident they are Atogwe can be 100 percent -- and not just short-term, but over the long-term.

But do you remember the last couple of times the Dolphins signed a player with shoulder troubles?

Justin Smiley was signed to a big long-term contact in 2008 and after only two seasons is on the outs because his shoulder is not well enough for him to stay on the field over a 16-game season. Chad Pennington came to the Dolphins with a history of shoulder problems, having had two operations on his throwing shoulder while with the Jets. Last year, he again required shoulder surgery because he dislocated his throwing shoulder during a game against San Diego. Pennington missed all but three games.

Do the Dolphins make the same leap with Atogwe in hopes of solving their long-term free safety issues? Will the Rams, who have reportedly scheduled talks with Atogwe in the coming weeks, even allow that to happen?

It is obviously not a certainty.