By SAM SPIEGELMAN
Michael Sam has cleared waivers and will not be signed to the St. Louis Rams' practice squad, and is still free to sign with any team that is interested in him.
The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year and 249th overall pick in the NFL Draft generated three sacks this preseason and graded out as Pro Football Focus' top-rated 4-3 defensive end.
The issue, of course, is whether teams view Sam as a valuable asset to their defense, and whether the organization is able to handle the media circus that inevitably will follow him.
With that in mind, here are five logical landing spots for Sam:
1. New York Giants
The G-Men have been starved for a pass rush the past three years, and coincidentally run a 4-3. The defense lacks a reliable pass-rusher opposite Jason Pierre-Paul, who alone has struggled to be the No. 1 guy the past few years.
Sam could fill in at left end ahead of Mathias Kiwanuka, or at least fill in on third-downs and pass-rushing situations. Kiwanuka has been a bust for New York; Sam has higher upside.
2. Dallas Cowboys
Like the Cowboys could use even more media attention, right? But despite all of the insanity circling Jerry Jones' team, the team needs help along the defensive line. Henry Melton is the team's best player and rusher, and he's a defensive tackle.
George Selvie is currently Dallas' starting left end, which gives Sam a chance to work his way into the rotation and perhaps find a niche under Rod Marinelli.
3. Detroit Lions
The Lions are set with Jason Jones as their defensive end, but in terms of an organization fit, it doesn't get much better than Jim Caldwell, who comes from the Tony Dungy coaching tree. And no, we aren't taking Dungy's misconceived quotes from a few weeks ago into consideration.
With Detroit, Sam would not have to be a starter Week 1, and instead he could work his way to a rotational spot with his contributions on special teams and perhaps as a situational pass-rusher.
4. Minnesota Vikings
Like Detroit, the Vikings are comfortable with Brian Robison coming off the edge of the left side. But if there is a defensive mind that can help mold a young talent, it is Mike Zimmer.
Zimmer has gotten the most out of mediocre talent during his time with Cincinnati, and Sam does offer upside. Perhaps the Twin Cities - which tends to get overlooked in the media - could be a nice destination.
5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lovie Smith, like Caldwell, comes from the Dungy circle. Adrian Clayborn is entrenched as the starter, but with such a loaded defensive front, it seems inevitable Sam can thrive.
Behind Clayton is William Gholston, and Sam offers a higher ceiling than he does, especially with a defensive-minded coach like Smith mentoring him.
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