Defensive end Michael Sam was cut by the St. Louis Rams yesterday, putting at least a temporary halt to his historic journey to the NFL. Many fans may not remember it, but Sam was on the Cincinnati Bengals’ radar before the NFL draft in May; might the Bengals be interested in signing him now that he’s available again?
In spring, the Bengals were unsure of their depth at DE due to the impending free agency of Michael Johnson, who ended up leaving the team. Looking for potential help, Cincinnati attended the University of Missouri pro day to scout both Sam and teammate Kony Ealy.
Ealy was the better fit of the Bengals physical 4-3 scheme, but he also came with a higher draft projection before eventually sinking to the Carolina Panthers in the second round. Sam slid all the way to the seventh round, and Cincinnati passed on him all along the way, too.
On the surface, you would think there is no shot for Sam in Cincinnati now, considering that he has been cut by one team and that the Bengals have a pretty solid corps at DE and LB, particularly with the preseason emergence of Margus Hunt.
The current line configuration is unproven in the regular season, though, and Sam was a Defensive Player of the Year in college. His low draft status and failure to stick with the Rams should also make him a low-buy proposition.
Sam obviously has upside and would be worthy of a practice squad slot, but it seems unlikely he would accept such a role with the Bengals. He might still latch on in the same capacity with the Rams, and a bigger prize might await him as teams make their way through the first week of the regular season.
In the end, Sam would be a decent insurance pick-up for the Bengals, but he has a high enough profile that he won’t have to settle for scraps. Chances are, we won’t see him in Cincinnati any time soon.