The first openly gay player to be drafted by an NFL team will not be playing just yet. None of the NFL’s 31 other teams claimed Michael Sam after the St. Louis Rams released him on Saturday, so he is now a free agent, according to reports by ESPN, the Associated Press and USA Today. The big question now is whether Sam, who was a seventh-round draft pick, could join the Rams’ 10-man practice squad. He could also join another team’s practice squad. And some have even suggested he could join the Canadian Football League, notes the Guardian.
On Saturday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher made it sound as if the team may not have a need for Sam in its practice squad. “The practice squad is heavily dependent on what you do in other positions,” Fisher said, according to ESPN. “We’ve got, for example, it’s well noted that [CB] Trumaine [Johnson] is going to be down for a few weeks, [C/G] Barrett [Jones] is going to be down for a few weeks. We may have to go heavy in the other positions. If you’re familiar with our roster right now, we’ve got five linebackers, for example; we need linebackers on the practice squad. I’m not going to go into what his odds are or what those opportunities are until we sift through things tomorrow.”
The AP says it “appeared unlikely” that the Rams would sign Sam to the practice squad “because the defensive line is their strongest unit and they need help elsewhere.”