Needing more bodies at linebacker for their upcoming training camp, the Dallas Cowboys have signed free agent Christian Sam. He was a 6th-round pick by the Patriots in 2018 and most recently played for the Tampa Bay Breakers of the USFL.
During his rookie year in New England, Sam was placed on injured reserve at the end of the preseason. He returned in 2019 to compete for a job but was released at final cuts. From there, Christian bounced around practice squads in Miami, San Francisco, and Detroit before landing in the USFL.
Sam had 54 tackles, eight TFL, and one interception in nine games for the Breakers. The 26-year-old will now get a chance to compete in Dallas at a position that is ripe with opportunity.
The Cowboys have several health issues at linebacker going into 2022. Jabril Cox still has to prove he's recovered from last year's ACL tear. Rookie Damone Clark may not play at all this year after spinal fusion surgery, and at the very least isn't expected to contribute early. Backup prospect Devante Bond was recently placed on IR with a knee injury from OTAs.
If that's not enough, we're always concerned about Leighton Vander Esch's availability. He's coming off an encouraging 2021 with no missed games but needs to sustain that to shake the perceptions from the previous two years.
Based on current info Vander Esch, Micah Parsons, and Luke Gifford are your only sure bets to be ready for Week One. Rookies Aaron Hansford, Devin Harper, and Storey Jackson are the current competition for backup roles, which makes the addition of a more experienced guy like Christian Sam unsurprising.
Sam was scouted in 2018 as a 5th or 6th-round prospect coming out of Arizona State. He has a well-rounded game both in run support and coverage but lacks exceptional athleticism to enhance these traits.
Even if he's not a dynamic athlete, Sam now has multiple seasons working with NFL coaches and recent playing time in a professional league. That could give him an edge against a late-round rookie in Harper and undrafted free agents like Hansford and Jackson.
Again, Christian Sam may be nothing more than a camp body by the time it's all said and done. But given the lack of depth at linebacker right now, he joins the Cowboys with a rare opportunity to break through to a roster spot in 2022.