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Michael Sam cut by the St. Louis Rams

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The St. Louis Rams released defensive end Michael Sam on Saturday, the team announced.

Sam's efforts to become the first openly gay player in NFL history came up just short in a competition against undrafted rookie Ethan Westbrook.

Westbrooks is one of nine defensive linemen to land a roster spot.

Sam officially hit waivers Saturday at 4 p.m. ET when all NFL teams had to trim their rosters down to the league-mandated 53 players. From there, the other 31 teams will have until noon ET on Sunday to put in a claim for Sam. If he goes unclaimed, he will be free to sign with a practice squad.

According to one league source, the Rams would like to bring Sam back to their 10-man practice squad.

The Rams spent a seventh-round draft pick, No. 249 overall, on Sam in May's draft. In arriving in St. Louis, Sam joined a team about two hours from the Missouri campus where he went to school, but also one loaded with defensive line talent. Sam put together a solid preseason performance, coming up with 11 tackles and three sacks. In Thursday night's preseason finale against Miami, Sam finished his preseason work with a team-high six tackles.

After the game, coach Jeff Fisher offered an endorsement of Sam's ability.

"I believe he can play in this league," Fisher said.

Teams can begin signing players waived in the final round of cuts after the waiver period ends Sunday.


Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Marcus Qwertyus / Wikimedia