Will the Atlanta Falcons pick up openly gay NFL player Michael Sam?

Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be selected in the NFL draft, was cut by the St. Louis Rams earlier today, and now the question remains which team, if any, picks him up.

Sam, a college linebacker turned NFL defensive end due to his size, was one of the final players the Rams cut to get down to the league-mandated 53-player roster. It was a surprise to some because Sam had a great preseason and did everything he could with the opportunities given to him, but it was an uphill battle to make the squad because the Rams are deep at his position.

Sam thanked the Rams organization on Twitter and added the following after the news came down, saying, “The most worthwhile things in life rarely come easy, this is a lesson I’ve always known. The journey continues.”

As far as what’s next for Sam, other teams have 24 hours to put in a waiver claim for him. If no team claims him, he could still return to the Rams on their practice squad.

“There will be no challenge, no challenges whatsoever,” for whatever team picks up Sam, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said at a news conference. “There’s no challenge with respect to Mike Sam. He’s not about drawing attention to himself. He kept his head down and worked and you can’t ask anything more out of any player for that matter.”

There hasn’t been many predictions so far on where Sam will land, but popular Falcons blog The Falcoholics doesn’t see him suiting up in Atlanta.

But Falcons blog Blogging Dirty posted a story yesterday saying if the Rams cut Sam, the Falcons should scoop him up.

If Sam is cut Atlanta may become his new home quickly. There is no secret that Atlanta needs help rushing the passer. The team has attempted to develop young players into pass rushers but so far none of the options have panned out. Jonathan Massaquoi is the only young player that is showing the ability to rush the passer. Facing Drew Brees and Cam Newton twice per year warrants the need to have disruptive players on the defensive line. The NFC South is loaded with wide receivers that will destroy opposing secondaries if the passer is allowed have a clean pocket then go through progressions and find the open target.

Michael Sam was co-defensive player of the year in the SEC. No other SEC defensive player of the year has ever gotten drafted so late in the draft. He was very successful in college racking up 11.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss. He plays the game with passion and energy that the Falcons need, more importantly he does his job. With the Falcons expecting to rotate the defense line frequently Michael Sam could help this team pressure the quarterback in passing situations.

Michael Sam has proved that he belongs in the league. Atlanta has a need for pass rushers. This is a marriage in the making. It could happen very soon.

As reported by Project Q Atlanta, Falcons linebackers coach Bryan Cox was caught on camera on the latest episode of HBO’s “Hard Knocks” berating a player by saying, “I want you to see how fuckin’ pitiful you look. You just takin’ ass-woopin’s like that? They’re going to make you their jailhouse bitch and you just givin’ into them.”

The GA Voice will update the Michael Sam story as it progresses and let you know if we hear anything coming out of Falcons headquarters about the possibility of them making history by signing the NFL’s first openly gay player.

UPDATE: Michael Sam went unclaimed by all 31 other NFL teams, including the Falcons, and was not signed to the Rams’ practice squad. He could be signed to a team’s practice squad if another player is released or injured, or elect to play in Canada until an NFL opportunity arises.

psaunders@thegavoice.com | @patricksaunders