The stature and media coverage of the draft create a clear presumption that it’s very good for a player to have his name called as one of the more than 250 selections. For players drafted at the end of the process, however, it’s better to not be drafted at all.
If not drafted, a player may sign as a free agent with the team of his choosing, with the goal of finding the roster that gives him the best chance of earning — and holding — one of the 53 final roster spots. For that reason, former Missouri defensive end Michael Sam’s short-term and long-term career prospects may have been enhanced by not being selected with the 249th of 256 picks.
Rams G.M. Les Snead hinted at this dynamic during a Monday appearance on PFT Live, when discussing the thought process behind drafting Sam. Snead explained that the Rams hoped to sign two undrafted defensive ends, but that the quality of the team’s current collection of defensive ends could make that challenging. Thus, to get the number of defensive ends that the Rams hoped to have in the offseason and training camp, they needed to rely on the draft.
In other words, the Rams knew it would be very difficult to persuade undrafted defensive ends to voluntarily join the team. So they opted to add Michael Sam involuntarily.
Ultimately, they may voluntarily cut Sam — especially in light of the competition he faces on the roster. It won’t be easy to do. Michael Sam jerseys are selling briskly, and fans will expect to see him on the field in September.
The best outcome for Sam and the Rams could be an injury (or perhaps an “injury”) that would allow the team to put him on IR for the season. He’d receive his full salary, the fans who purchased jerseys with the idea that he’ll be on the team will be placated, and the Rams would have an extra year to decide whether he has the ability to thrive at the NFL level.