ST. LOUIS — Michael Sam probably was never an ideal fit with the St. Louis Rams, and it had absolutely nothing to do with his sexual orientation. They’re just too well-stocked at defensive end, Sam’s position.
Sam showed up for his face-to-face exit meeting with Rams coach Jeff Fisher on Sunday, a few hours after clearing waivers. Sam shook hands with two reporters and accepted well wishes but declined further comment before heading upstairs to see the coach who wasn’t afraid to add the first openly gay player to the roster. Or to cut him loose.
Fisher said numerous times during his post cutdown-day news conference Saturday that releasing the SEC co-defensive player of the year was a “football decision.” Sam was outplayed in the preseason by Ethan Westbrooks, the Rams’ top target when signing undrafted free agents. The coach pointed out four other late-round picks were released and believed it to be a sign the franchise is on the upswing. There were no regrets.
Fisher and Sam both said it was never a distraction, and the coach believed that would be the case if Sam landed with another team.
“There were no issues, that’s the thing,” Fisher said. “No issues in the team meeting room, on the field, anyplace.”
All 21 players released the Rams on Saturday cleared waivers.
“Some may be coming back,” Fisher said. “You may see them Sunday on the practice squad, and some you may never ever see again.”
The Rams appeared unlikely to re-sign Sam to the 10-player practice squad because the defensive line is their strongest unit.
Fisher noted only one defensive lineman had more preseason snaps than Sam, so he got a full shot. And that there were more than enough pass rushers with Robert Quinn and Chris Long starting, plus productive backups William Hayes and Eugene Sims. Tackles Michael Brockers and Aaron Donald, the latter a first-round pick this year, also are sack threats.
“It’s the strength of our team,” Fisher said, adding carrying nine defensive linemen was a “significant number.” “If you go with 10, then you’re going to be short someplace else, and we’re just not there.”