Bob Sanders in Jacksonville: The other options

Ok, so he’s not in Jacksonville anymore, but Bob Sanders is still the hot topic among Jaguars fans. After a day that involved Sanders going through medical exams, having lunch with Gene Smith and reportedly having dinner with Aaron Kampman and Mel Tucker, the two-time Pro Bowler has left with Buffalo next on his itinerary.

Still, that hasn’t stopped Jaguars fans from debating the risk that a Bob Sanders contract would come with and what the cost would be to acquire Sanders. If the Jaguars don’t sign Sanders, it is still very likely that they sign a veteran defensive back to help what was a terrible secondary. Who else is out there?

O.J. Atogwe is the one that everyone is going to talk about. The reason everyone talks about Atogwe is because they’ve heard everyone else talking about Atogwe. Conundrum, I know, but the point is, how many great O.J. Atogwe plays have you seen? Atogwe is the beneficiary of tremendous hype due to the annual free-agency-palooza. Fans want to know who the best option is to upgrade their favorite teams’ roster and for three years Atogwe has been in the conversation.

Regardless of the fact that the only award Atogwe has earned in his career is the 2008 Rams MVP Award, fans are ready to welcome the “superstar” to their town. That’s right, this is supposedly the best free agent safety available and he’s never been to a Pro Bowl in his six years in the league. And he’s in the conference without Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Atogwe spent Monday in Washington speaking with the Redskins. As far as I’m concerned, that means the price for the 29 year old safety is already through the roof.

In my opinion, Eric Weddle offers much more to a franchise than Atogwe ever will. The 26 year old has shown steady improvement over his four years in the NFL and has just started to reach his potential. He has proven to be much faster in the secondary and stronger as a tackler than Atogwe. As a litte bonus, he has been a part of a secondary that has given Peyton Manning and company a lot of trouble in recent years. But for some reason, Atogwe is the one who is likely to get the ridiculous contract when there is little difference between the two safeties.

Even assuming that Weddle and Atogwe are available in free agency, neither rival the talent of a healthy Bob Sanders. He is far beyond both in terms of speed, hitting, tackling and playmaking ability. But because of injury, the opportunity to have such a potentially great player is cheap for the Jaguars. There is certainly risk associated with signing Sanders, but I continue to believe that the potential reward is worth it.