Missouri defensive end Michael Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round, the 249th player taken. Had he slipped by the Rams and gone undrafted, the Bears were looking to sign Sam, the first player openly gay player to enter the NFL draft, as an undrafted free agent and have him compete for a job at defensive end.
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“We would have put him at defensive end and might have given him a shot at ‘Sam’ ‘backer, but I think his skill set is more defensive end,” said GM Phil Emery. “Obviously, when somebody has that number of sacks, you’ve got to pay attention to that. You give him a chance to come in and compete for a job. So, yes, had he made it through, we would have been competitive in terms of college free agency.”
The Bears did not concern themselves with whether Sam being gay would be any kind of distraction. They simply did not think that was necessary, Emery said.
The reason why the Bears did not draft the SEC co-defensive player of the year was a case of numbers: They already have a stock of defensive ends and not all of those are going to make this season’s roster as it is.
“Obviously, all of the work that we did on D-end, not only this offseason but having David Bass, having Cornelius [Washington] here, bringing in Austen Lane, the mix of players that we have brought in – right now, we’re one over on that roster spot,” Emery said. “So, had he made it through the draft, we were more than willing to be competitive in terms of free agency and hope to sign him and beat one of those guys out because of his production. But in terms of drafting for a spot that you’re already over with, veteran and young players, doesn’t make a lot of sense in terms of your resources.”