Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Sam, the first openly gay draft pick, cut

ST. LOUIS — The Rams cut defensive end Michael Sam, the first openly gay player drafted by an NFL team. Coach Jeff Fisher repeated over and over that it was purely a football decision.

"I will tell you this: I was pulling for Mike," Fisher said at news conference Saturday, when all NFL teams met the afternoon deadline to reduce their rosters to 53. "I really was, and I don't say that very often. Mike came in here and did everything we asked him to do."

The seventh-round draft choice had 11 tackles and three sacks during the preseason. He played at Missouri from 2010-13 and was the co-defensive player of the year in the Southeastern Conference last season.

Sam still has a chance to get picked up by another team or to make the Rams' practice squad. Wherever he lands, Fisher said "there will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever" for the team that signs him.

"He's not about drawing attention to himself," Fisher said. "He kept his head down and worked and you can't ask anything more out of any player for that matter."

On Twitter, roughly an hour after he was cut, Sam wrote, "The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I've always known. The journey continues." He also thanked the Rams and city of St. Louis, adding he looks forward to a long and successful career.

Bengals: Quarterback AJ McCarron was placed on the injury list, making the fifth-round pick from Alabama ineligible to practice for the first six weeks. He missed training camp and the preseason with a sore shoulder. The team also terminated the contract of safety Danieal Manning, signed as a free agent from Houston and considered one of their main offseason acquisitions.

Bills: Veteran quarterback Kyle Orton and punter Colton Schmidt signed and second-year backup quarterback Jeff Tuel was cut. … Rocker Jon Bon Jovi has been chucked from the Toronto-based group bidding for the team. He would have been the principal owner and, under NFL rules, would have to put up 30 percent of the purchase price. With his net worth at roughly $300 million, the group's highest bid would have been capped at about $1.1 billion.

Broncos: Nine-year veteran defensive tackle Kevin Vickerson and third-year safety Duke Ihenacho, a starter last season who had nine tackles in the Super Bowl, were cut. Cornerback Kayvon Webster of USF didn't return with the team from the preseason finale in Dallas on Thursday night after falling ill and was hospitalized overnight.

Browns: Veteran receiver Nate Burleson was released. Former Gator Rex Grossman, 34, will begin the season as the third quarterback behind starter Brian Hoyer and backup Johnny Manziel. Rookie QB Connor Shaw of South Carolina was cut.

Chargers: Tight end Michael Flacco, younger brother of Ravens QB Joe Flacco, was cut.

Chiefs: Veteran kicker Ryan Succop, who hit 81 percent of his field goals over the past five seasons and was due to make $2 million, was released in favor of Cairo Santos, an undrafted free agent and former Lou Groza Award winner from Tulane who is scheduled to make $422,000.

Colts: Reigning NFL sacks champ Robert Mathis went on the reserve-suspended list, safety Delano Howell was put on the waived-injured list and CB Marcus Burley was dealt to Seattle for a sixth-round '15 pick.

Cowboys: The team waived a pair of receivers, LaRon Byrd, a former Hurricane, and Jamar Newsome of Boca Ciega High and UCF, and acquired defensive end Lavar Edwards in a trade with Tennessee.

dolphins: Center Mike Pouncey, a former Gator, will not open the season on the physically unable to perform list after recovering from hip surgery.

Eagles: Veteran placekicker Alex Henery, the team's fourth-round draft pick in 2011, was cut to make way for rookie Cody Parkey. Former Bucs receiver Arrelious Benn is headed to injured reserve for the third straight year and second with Philadelphia with a lower-back injury. Linebacker Travis Long is also on IR with a torn ACL.

49ers: Offensive lineman Jonathan Martin, who had a tumultuous departure from the Dolphins in October amid a bullying scandal, made the roster.

Giants: A pair of receivers, one-time Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham and free agent signee Trindon Holliday, were placed on injured reserve. Backup quarterback Curtis Painter, fullback John Conner, running back Michael Cox and receiver Julian Talley — members of last year's team — were cut. Ryan Nassib will be quarterback Eli Manning's backup.

Jaguars: General manager Dave Caldwel initially parted ways with undrafted rookie guard Tyler Shatley, but after getting several calls about the former Clemson starter Friday, reversed course and kept the 300-pound lineman. Another undrafted rookie who made the team was former Hurricanes receiver Allen Hurns.

Jets: Suspended cornerback Dimitri Patterson was released, ending a bizarre week that began when he left the team before its preseason game against the Giants on Aug. 22. Receiver Stephen Hill, a 2012 second-round draft pick out of Georgia Tech, was cut, as were Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd and Tennessee's Matt Simms.

Panthers: Tavarres King, the only receiver remaining from last season's roster, was released.

Patriots: Offensive guard Jon Halapio of St. Petersburg Catholic, a sixth-round draft pick out of Florida, was waived.

Redskins: Incumbent kicker Kai Forbath held off draft pick Zach Hocker of Arkansas, and undrafted rookie Silas Redd out of Southern Cal claimed the final running back spot. Two former Seminoles, linebacker Everette Brown, a second-round pick by the Panthers in 2009, and Chris Thompson, a fifth round pick in 2013, were released.

Seahawks: Former USF quarterback B.J. Daniels was cut, leaving only starter Russell Wilson and veteran Tarvaris Jackson. The veteran contract of tackle Eric Winston, the NFLPA president, was terminated.

Saints: Champ Bailey, the 12-time Pro Bowl cornerback, and veteran receiver Robert Meachem were among the cuts along with veteran kicker Shayne Graham, who joined the team late last season, and rookie kicker Derek Dimke. That leaves no kicker on the roster just eight days before the team begins the regular season at Atlanta.

Steelers: Linebacker James Harrison, 36, announced his retirement. He played for the team from 2004-12, spent last season with the Bengals and visited the Cardinals last week, but the two sides could not come to a contract agreement.

Titans: Kicker Maikon Bonani, undrafted out of USF in 2013, was waived in favor of undrafted Travis Coons of Washington.

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