The St. Louis Rams cut Michael Sam today, as they trimmed their roster to the limit of 53 players. Sam is bidding to become the first man to play in the NFL while openly gay.
Despite being cut, Sam’s chances to play in the NFL remain decent, I think. Sam showed plenty of ability during the pre-season. In one game, he sacked Johnny Manziel (known, for some reason, as “Johnny Football”) twice. This was nothing new for Sam. He sacked Manziel as a junior and as a senior in college.
Why didn’t Sam make the team? Not, as far as I can tell, because of anything having to do with his sexual orientation.
Sam’s problem was that an undrafted free agent named Ethan Westbrooks came out of nowhere and had a fine training camp/pre-season at defensive end (Sam’s position). The Rams are stacked at defensive end, so the last slot was always likely to go to the player who performed best on special teams. That player turned out to be Westbrooks.
In all likelihood, the Rams will place Sam on their practice squad next week unless another team claims him for its 53 man roster. As the name suggests, members of practice squads practice with the team as if they were part of the regular roster. However, they can’t play in games unless they are elevated to the regular roster.
Typically, players are elevated if there’s an injury at their position or if someone on the regular squad performs poorly. Meanwhile, other teams can claim practice squad members at any time.
All-in-all, I’d say that Sam’s prospects of eventually making a 53 man roster and getting on the field in a regular NFL game are pretty good if he keeps working hard.