Former Missouri wide receiver Bud Sasser was waived Thursday by the Rams with a non-football injury designation after the discovery of a heart condition during a team physical.
Sasser, who St. Louis drafted in the sixth round and signed to a rookie contract Tuesday that pays him a $113,737 signing bonus, hopes to land with another NFL team.
He was diagnosed with apical hypertophic cardiomyopathy, the medical term for the thickening of the heart muscle. It can cause stiffening of the walls in the heart and abnormal valve function.
“We sent him to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and the doctors there said he does have a slight condition, but he is not at risk,” Sasser’s agent, Scott Thiel, said. “The doctor there said it’s so minute that he doesn’t have a problem with him playing football.
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“It’s just ultimately up to the team doctor. He’s at little to no risk and the doctors in Minnesota said they do, in fact, know of other players that have been to see them with this condition that are in the NFL right now.”
The Rams obviously aren’t one of those teams.
“Not in our opinion, no,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher told reporters Thursday after organized team activities. “Not in a medical opinion and based on the medical experts and everything else. He was a non-combine guy, and that happens sometimes. Our team physicians and outside physicians recommended he not play.”
Sasser, who caught 77 for 1,003 yards and 12 touchdowns last season for the Tigers, never participated in a practice for the Rams.
Thiel said he has reached out to several teams, including those that were interested in him before the draft and already knew about the condition.
“This isn’t new information,” Thiel said. “Most of the teams knew about it before the draft. He didn’t go to the Combine, so he didn’t get extensive tests by the Rams beforehand. Other teams that he did go in and see didn’t express any issue about it.”
Thiel said the Rams have been terrific throughout the process.
“They definitely tried on their end and want him to play there, but it’s just that their doctors aren’t comfortable with it, I guess,” Thiel said.
Still, it’s been a rough few weeks for Sasser with the prospect of his NFL career ending before ever getting a chance to begin.
“He’s taking it in stride,” Thiel said. “Is he disappointed? Absolutely. Especially to get drafted and think you’re staying in Missouri, where a ton of his fan base is, but he’s trying to stay positive. In his mind, things happen for a reason, so he’s going to stay positive and hopefully get picked up by another team.”
Sasser has known about the Rams’ decision for a few weeks and will remain with the team for now unless another NFL squad claims him off waivers.
“He’ll stay with the team, but he’ll just be on the non-football injury list,” Thiel said. “If, in fact, something else comes about, the Rams I think will be accommodating. We’ll have to see.”