Michael Sam makes football sense for Cowboys
September, 2, 2014
By Tim MacMahon | ESPNDallas.com
IRVING, Texas -- Signing Michael Sam to the practice squad is a move that makes perfect football sense for the Dallas Cowboys.
Forget about the fact that Sam is seeking to become the first openly gay NFL player. If the Cowboys aren't mature enough to handle that, they're doomed anyway.
So what if Sam gets more attention than any other practice-squad player? If anything, it's a bonus for owner and general manager Jerry Jones, who loves when the Cowboys are in the news and jerseys are being sold.
But that's no reason to bring Sam to Valley Ranch. Dallas' desperate need for pass-rushers -- now and in the future -- is a good reason to give Sam a shot.
Quick, name all the healthy edge rushers on the Cowboys' roster who perform that role better than Sam. The silence is deafening.
If anything, a case could be made for putting Sam on the 53-man roster right away. The Cowboys won't have DeMarcus Lawrence, the second-round pick drafted to fill DeMarcus Ware's pass-rushing shoes, for the first half of the season. Anthony Spencer is still at least a couple of weeks away from being ready to return from microfracture knee surgery. George Selvie, whose seven sacks last season more than doubled his previous career total, is dealing with a sore right shoulder. Jeremy Mincey, the starting right defensive end, is better suited to be an interior rusher on passing downs.
The Cowboys didn't draft Sam, who was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams and was released last week, because they considered him a tweener who wasn't a fit in their 4-3 scheme. At 6-foot-2, 261 pounds, Sam is not big enough to be an every-down defensive end or fast enough to be an outside linebacker.
But Sam has the potential to contribute in the Cowboys' nickel and dime packages. His combine numbers weren't impressive, but you can't deny his knack for getting to the quarterback.
Sam displayed that ability at Missouri, where he had 11.5 sacks last season while earning co-defensive player of the year honors in the SEC. He displayed that ability during the preseason, when he recorded three sacks in four games -- or three more than all the defensive ends who made the Cowboys' 53-man roster.
The Cowboys need pass-rushers. The owner has never minded publicity. There's no better place for Sam to try to get his NFL career started.