Cowboys To Re-Sign DE Dante Fowler, Want To Re-Sign DT Johnathan Hankins

Following a bounce-back season, Dante Fowler plans to stay in Dallas. The Cowboys are bringing back the first-rounder-turned-rotational pass rusher, Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News reports (on Twitter).

Fowler will be back on another one-year deal, per Watkins. The deal is worth $3MM in base value, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson tweets. Fowler will collect a $1MM signing bonus and earn $1.5MM in base salary in 2023. The contract includes another $1.25MM available via incentives, Wilson adds.

The ex-Jaguars No. 3 overall draftee totaled six sacks last season, working behind the likes of DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons. DC Dan Quinn, who was the Falcons’ HC when they signed Fowler back in 2020, will have him back in this role soon.

The Cowboys aimed to re-sign Randy Gregory last year, but negotiations fell apart late in the process. After Gregory trekked to Denver, Dallas brought in Fowler, re-signed Dorance Armstrong and drafted Sam Williams in the second round. This quantity-based approach ended up paying off for the team, and Fowler — after flaming out on a $16MM-per-year Falcons agreement — fared well as a second-stringer in Dallas.

Fowler is going into his ninth NFL season, but he is headed for only his age-29 campaign. In addition to the six sacks — his most since 2019 — the former Florida prospect added two forced fumbles and nine quarterback hits. He got there in just 343 defensive snaps. The Cowboys still have Armstrong under contract as well; the Fowler addition looks to ensure the team will run it back at defensive end in 2023.

Consistency has eluded Fowler as a pro. He missed his entire rookie season, due to an injury at the Jags’ rookie minicamp, but played a key off-the-bench role for Jacksonville’s AFC championship game-bound team two years later. After Fowler’s eight-sack 2017, he tallied just four with the Jags and Rams in 2018. In a 2019 contract year, however, the then-Aaron Donald teammate racked up career-high numbers in sacks (11.5) and QB hits (16). That preceded a rough Falcons stay, one that ended a year early. Quinn looks to have unlocked Fowler’s higher gear; can the veteran edge defender sustain it?

Clearly sensing an opportunity in what looks to be the weaker of the two conferences, the Cowboys have been aggressive since the legal tampering period began. They have added Stephon Gilmore and Brandin Cooks and re-signed both Fowler, Donovan Wilson and Leighton Vander Esch.

This retention effort may also soon include Johnathan Hankins. The Cowboys want to bring back the veteran defensive tackle, Ed Werder of tweets. The Cowboys acquired Hankins from the Raiders before the deadline and used the 10-year vet as a starter and rotational D-tackle. Hankins, 31 next week, played in seven games for the Cowboys and recorded a sack in the playoffs. The journeyman run-stopper will not cost much to retain, and he looks to have another opportunity in Dallas.

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