Michael Sam
NFL rookie Michael Sam stands on the sidelines of the game between the Missouri Tigers and the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at Faurot Field. Sam was cut by the Rams minutes later. Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The first openly gay player to be drafted in the NFL, Michael Sam, was cut by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday. Sam had a surprisingly efficient preseason accumulating 11 tackles and three sacks including a highlight reel sack on Heisman Trophy Winning Cleveland Browns QB, Johnny Manziel.

St. Louis had to turn in their final 53-man roster today and according to those close to the Rams organization, Sam just narrowly missed making the team. Undrafted rookie defensive end Ethan Westbrooks from West Texas A&M made the roster and many believed that the final roster spot would come down to Sam or Westbrooks.

Head Coach Jeff Fisher said the decision to cut Michael Sam was a difficult one, but at the end of the day it was a football one. “I will tell you this: I was pulling for Mike, I really was,” said Fisher at a press conference in St. Louis announcing the final roster cuts. “And I don’t say that very often. Mike came in here and did everything we asked him to do.”

“It was a football decision, and the decision is no different than any other decision that we make. It was a football decision. It was a football decision back in May to draft Mike.” Fisher added.

Sam will now be on waivers for one day where any of the other 31 NFL teams will have the right to claim him. If he’s not claimed, he could return to the St. Louis Rams albeit on the practice squad. Getting picked up by another team might turn out to be a blessing in disguise for Sam in the long run.

Although its unfortunate that Sam did not make the team located so closely to his home state of Missouri where he played his college football for the Tigers, but in reality it could be a blessing for Sam in the long run. On paper, St. Louis was not the best destination for Sam. Sam became the SEC’s co-defensive player of the year last year while playing Defensive End, a position he played in the preseason for the Rams and a position he is comfortable in. The rams are extremely deep at that position and it was unlikely that Sam would see the playing field even if he did make the roster.

If Sam can get signed by a team who needs help at the defensive end position than he should be able to get playing time and grow as a player. Additionally, after the Rams lost starting QB Sam Bradford for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL, they are not expected to be a playoff team this year. If Michael Sam had made the Rams roster, and the team had a terrible season, than a lot of media attention would surround Sam and the coaching staff.

A new team should give Sam a fresh start, and allow him to compete for playing time on a team with stability and veteran leadership. I know that Sam is disappointed right now as evidenced by the tweets he posted earlier on Saturday, but if a team like the New England Patriots or Denver Broncos signs Sam then today could be a blessing in disguise.

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