The NFL preseason is over and the final roster cuts have been turned in. On Saturday afternoon the world learned that Michael Sam will not be a member of the St. Louis Rams. Sam maybe the highest profile release of a 7th rounder ever. Because he was first open gay player ever drafted in the NFL there have a lot of eyes on this man. Sam seemed to have handled the pressure well and played a pretty good preseason by all standards. That being said the Rams were loaded at defensive line and couldn’t carry 10 into the regular season.
Sam is now on waivers and is available to sign with any NFL team that will have him. If he clears waivers then St. Louis could sign him to their practice squad. After watching his games he has proved that he can play a hand in the dirt defensive end or be pass-rush specialist in a 3-4 scheme. There have been a lot of reactions to Sam being released. One thing is for sure when something like this hits the news wire we get to see the best and worst of our society via social media. For all the encouragement that Sam got the bigots couldn’t wait to throw a few jabs at him. Insults they couldn’t throw in the preceding weeks when his sack highlights were being played on ESPN.
Now the question is how this man’s football career moves on from here. Unlike the Rams there are a few teams around the league that are not as blessed with depth on the defensive line and especially at defensive end. Here are a few teams that could use the services of Sam to help out their rotation.
The San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers will be missing the services of All-Pro defensive end Aldon Smith for 9 games due to suspension for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. This did not push the San Fran to take a defensive end in the draft knowing that Smith was likely to be suspended. To compound things defensive lineman Ray McDonald signed himself up to be the first example of the new Goodell Domestic Violence policy which drops a 6 game suspension on him for the 1st offense. These holes will have to be filled by someone. The 49ers under Harbaugh have been a solid organization and would be a nice place for Michael to try to catch on and possibly contribute early.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are still in the process of reloading their defense and getting younger. Bill Belichick likes to run complex schemes with multiple fronts which might work out for Sam. Sam was a rush linebacker in college out of a 3-4 scheme. The Patriots have a reputation for developing lower round draft picks to solid pieces in their rotation. They also tend to find multiple uses for those talents.
The Dallas Cowboys
It seems that America’s Team could use some help rushing the passer. With the offseason departure of DeMarcus Ware and the injury to George Selvie the Cowboys are thin at the edges. Rookie defensive lineman DeMarcus Lawrence has been placed on injured reserve, so Sam could be an immediate contributor to team from Texas.
The Atlanta Falcons
A sore spot for Atlanta has been their pass rush ever since they departed ways with John Abraham. They tried to get some help in the draft by getting Rasheed Hageman from Minnesota in the 2nd round. Hageman is more of an interior lineman. They are hoping that the return of Kroy Biermann would help boost their pressure on opposing quarterbacks. As of right now nothing in this preseason has shown the Falcons as greatly improved at getting to the passer. Biermann seems to still unsure of himself after the injury and Osi Umenyiora has not been the guy he was when he was a member of the New York Giants. The other defensive ends have not made any plays worth mentioning. One thing we saw in preseason was that Sam had a knack for shedding his blockers and getting in the backfield.
Sam no doubted get a shot to play in the NFL somewhere. The question now is where and when. Who will be the owner or general manager who is willing to put their name on it?
Keith B. Holt
Follow on Twitter @Kholtjr