Dante Fowler Jr.

Extra Points: Cards, Jags, Packers, Raiders

The baseline extension for Cardinals running back David Johnson should be three years, $30.85MM, reasons Joel Corry of CBSSports.com (Twitter links). That figure represents the combined value of Carlos Hyde and Duke Johnson‘s contracts with the Browns, and Arizona would surely rather have Johnson on its roster than the Cleveland duo. Johnson, 26, managed more than 2,100 yards from scrimmage in 2017 before missing nearly the entire 2018 campaign, and he didn’t attend the Cardinals’ mandatory minicamp in something of a holdout, but Arizona is reportedly progressing on a deal with its best offensive player. For what it’s worth, a $10.28MM annual salary would make Johnson the league’s highest-paid running back on a multi-year deal, and place him only behind the franchise-tagged Le’Veon Bell in per annum salary. As Corry notes, both Johnson and Rams runner Todd Gurley are presumably hoping Bell signs a record-breaking extension in the near future, resetting the running back market just in time for each to receive new deals.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Like Johnson, Jaguars pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr. is entering the final season of his rookie deal after Jacksonville opted not to exercise his 2019 fifth-year option, but the former third overall pick could be facing a health concern as the year gets underway, writes Hays Carlyon of 1010XL 92.5 FM. Fowler had been recovering from an unspecified upper body injury, and Carlyon reports Fowler has clearly lost “sizable muscle mass” over the past several weeks. That’s certainly not a positive for a player who relies on his edge-bending abilities, especially one like Fowler who faces an uncertain contractual future. Fowler, who posted eight sacks a season ago, would have earned $14.2MM had the Jaguars picked up his fifth-year option, but he’ll now head to the open market next spring barring an extension.
  • Speaking of preseason injuries, Packers wide receiver Randall Cobb is currently sporting a walking boot on his right foot, tweets Michael Cohen of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. While Cobb wouldn’t reveal whether he’d undergone surgery, Cohen indicates Cobb is dealing with an ankle injury that is not expected to to force him to miss any regular season action. Although Cobb hasn’t come close to matching his outstanding 2014 season over the past few years, he did manage to top 60 receptions in both 2016 and 2017. Jordy Nelson is no longer in Green Bay, but that won’t necessarily affect Cobb’s role, as he spends most of his time in the slot.
  • Nelson is now with the Raiders, where he’ll be joined in Oakland’s wide receiver corps by trade acquisition Ryan Switzer, whom the Raiders picked up from the Cowboys in exchange for defensive lineman Jihad Ward“Ryan Switzer has really caught my eye,” head coach Jon Gruden said, per Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area. “Switzer has come in here and not only been a punt returner, kick returner, he’s come in and been a force as a slot receiver. He’s really done well.” Switzer, who put up only 41 receiving yards during his rookie season in 2017, will compete for time with Nelson, Amari Cooper, Martavis Bryant, and Seth Roberts, among others.

AFC Notes: L. Jackson, Green, Fowler

Before the draft, new Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson refuted reports that multiple teams wanted to him to work out as a wide receiver. Perhaps that was simply because Jackson, who represents himself, wanted to downplay the notion that his quarterback skills will not translate to the professional level, because now that he is officially a first-round pick and is on a team that is committed to his future as a QB, Jackson’s story is a little different.

Jackson said in a recent interview with the Ravens’ official website (video link) that the Chargers were the first team to approach him about running routes during the combine. The 2016 Heisman Trophy winner was taken aback by the request, which triggered his decision to not run the 40-yard dash and to rely on his game film instead.

Of course, Jackson may be deployed as a wide receiver on occasion this year. Joe Flacco remains the Ravens’ starter, but Baltimore wants to take advantage of Jackson’s elite athleticism, so the team is designing packages that will put both players on the field at the same time.

Now let’s take a look at several more AFC items:

  • Bengals WR A.J. Green is entering the fourth year of the five-year pact he signed in September 2015, which made him the highest-paid receiver in the league at the time. In terms of average annual value, Green is now the sixth-highest paid wideout in the game, and if Julio Jones and Odell Beckham Jr. get their way, he will be the eighth-highest paid by the time the regular season rolls around. But as Paul Dehner Jr. and Jim Owczarski of the Cincinnati Enquirer write, it does not sound as if Green will be asking for more money until the expiration of his current deal at the end of the 2019 season. Green supports his colleagues’ efforts to rework their existing contracts, but as for himself, he said, “I don’t really get caught up in what’s the money like because I signed my deal and it was the highest paid at that point. It’s going to always go up. So you can’t keep up with that. At the end of the day [owner Mike Brown] took care of me. I’m still under contract for the next two years and we’ll go from there.” 
  • Yesterday, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com suggested that the Jets could flip Teddy Bridgewater to a QB-needy team for a pass rusher, and he named the Jaguars‘ Dante Fowler as one potential target. However, Florida Football Insiders does not buy the fact that Fowler will be on the move this offseason. 2018 is a critical year for Fowler, who is set for unrestricted free agency in 2019 since the Jags declined his fifth-year option last month. But Jacksonville believes he is an ascending player, and he did put up eight sacks last season, so the club is hoping for continued strong production from him in his platform campaign.
  • We rounded up a series of Patriots-related notes earlier today, and we asked you yesterday what team you think poses the biggest threat to the Pats’ hopes of repeating as AFC champs in 2018. Thus far, PFR readers believe the Steelers have the best chance.

Jaguars Decline Dante Fowler’s Fifth-Year Option

The Jaguars elected not to exercise the fifth-year option on defensive end Dante Fowler, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets. However, he adds that the Jags still believe he’s an ascending player and hope to sign him to a long-term deal. 

The decision on Fowler may have been one of the trickier calls in this year’s bunch of fifth-year options. Fowler, 24 in August, missed his entire rookie season but became a solid contributor for the team upon taking the field in 2016. Last year, he set new career highs with eight sacks and two forced fumbles.

Still, extending Fowler’s deal through 2019 would have cost the team an additional $14.2MM. The option is guaranteed for injury only, but that would have been a risky proposition in light of his 2015 ACL tear.

Fowler will return as the Jaguars’ first defensive end off of the bench behind starters Yannick Ngakoue and Calais Campbell. Campbell has three years to go on his four-year, $60MM deal with the Jaguars and the team will have to address Ngakoue’s contract after the 2019 season, so there’s definitely a limit on how much they can pay Fowler.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

South Rumors: Jaguars, Hooker, Texans

The Jaguars would have an interesting setup for Lamar Jackson, employing a recently extended starting quarterback but a long-scrutinized player whose long-term future with the team remains in doubt. Tom Coughlin said Friday the Louisville prospect was an “outstanding young man” and an “extremely talented athlete.” But Dave Caldwell said the team that pulls the trigger on Jackson would have to be ready to adjust its offense to accommodate the dual-threat talent.

He’s a rare athlete,” Caldwell said, via Phillip Heilman of the Florida Times-Union. “As a quarterback, he’s a good player. He won a lot of games at that position. [Drafting him] depends what your scheme is, what you want to do and how you want to play and how he fits. I can’t say he’s the prototypical pocket passer, but you can win games with a guy like him.”

Jacksonville holds the draft’s No. 29 overall pick and has not conducted a workout with Jackson, who may now be a full-fledged top-20 prospect.

Here’s the latest from the South divisions:

  • Caldwell did not give an indication on which way he was leaning with regards to picking up Dante Fowler‘s fifth-year option. The Jacksonville GM said the team had not made a decision. Earlier today, Fowler’s price became clear. It will cost the Jaguars a massive sum ($14.2MM) to keep Fowler on their books for 2019 on his rookie contract.
  • On the subject of AFC South pass rushers, Brian Gaine is optimistic the Texans will extend Jadeveon Clowney this offseason. But Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle reports no deal is particularly close at this point. Clowney, Aaron Donald and Khalil Mack figure to see the others members of this trio’s deals affect theirs, and Von Miller may become the fourth-highest-paid defender by the time this offseason is over.
  • Gaine does not plan to deviate from Rick Smith‘s philosophy of setting the offseason as the window for extension agreements. John McClane of the Houston Chronicle notes the first-year Houston GM wants to finalize re-ups before the regular season. Clowney and Benardrick McKinney‘s proceedings will put this approach to the test this year.
  • Malik Hooker joined his Colts teammates for the start of their offseason program earlier this month but said (via Matt Taylor of Colts.com) he’s “not 100 percent by any means” as he recovers from a severe knee injury. Colts.com’s Andrew Walker writes training camp isn’t a certainty for the 2017 first-rounder, who went down in late October of last year with a torn ACL and MCL.
  • Former Broncos and Bears linebacker Lamin Barrow was driving the car at the time of the accident that ended with Buccaneers ‘backer Kendell Beckwith fracturing an ankle, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports. Barrow and Beckwith were LSU teammates. The crash occurred at around 1 a.m., April 12. The vehicle veered off a road and crashed into a gate, per Laine. Although authorities said Barrow did not show signs of impairment, he was given a citation for driving with a suspended license.

Latest On Jaguars’ Dante Fowler

Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler is facing misdemeanor charges of simple battery and mischief as a result of a Tuesday arrest, but that wasn’t his first run-in with the law during his two-year NFL career. In fact, Fowler has committed 10 traffic violations since December 2015, reports Mike Kaye of First Coast News (Twitter links). What’s more, Fowler was arrested in Miami Beach in March 2016 and charged with misdemeanor counts of assaulting a police offer and resisting arrest without violence, according to Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times.

Dante Fowler (vertical)

The arrest report states that Fowler hindered police from trying to break up a crowd in front a bar, as Auman details. Fowler “ignored verbal requests to move off the road,” writes Auman, and, when an officer put his arm on Fowler’s, the Jaguar said “Get the [expletive] off me” and swung his arm backward “in an obvious attempt to strike” the officer, the report indicates. “Numerous officers” then had to escort Fowler out. Despite that, the misdemeanor charges against him were dropped in December 2016, after he completed a pretrial intervention program for first-time offenders.

Now that Fowler has multiple off-field blemishes on his resume, it could lead to a harsher punishment from the NFL. Even if the authorities let Fowler off relatively scot-free for his latest arrest, the league may hand the 22-year-old a suspension. That would temporarily deprive the Jaguars a defensive starter and represent another setback in the career of Fowler, the 2015 third overall pick who missed his rookie season with a torn ACL and was involved in an unbecoming incident last year in which he was caught on video watching a fight between his girlfriend and ex-girlfriend. The league was aware of it, calling the images “disturbing,” but it didn’t punish Fowler.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars DE Dante Fowler Arrested

Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler was arrested in St. Petersburg on Tuesday night, as Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times writes. He is now facing misdemeanor charges of simple battery and mischief. Dante Fowler (vertical)

According to police records obtained by Matthew Head of First Coast News (Twitter link), cops say that Fowler got out of his car and got into a verbal exchange with a man who commented on his driving. When they came face to face, the defensive end allegedly hit the man, knocked off his glasses, and stepped on them. He then proceeded to take the victim’s grocery bag and throw it in a nearby lake.

The victim was not injured and Fowler was arrested without incident. The 22-year-old is currently free after posting a small bond early Wednesday morning.

Fowler, a first-round pick out of Florida in 2015, missed his entire rookie season due to injury. When he debuted in 2016, he recorded 32 tackles and four sacks. Fowler made just one start last season, but this year he projects as a starting bookend opposite of Calais Campbell. If he misses time as a result of this incident, it will be a serious blow to the Jaguars.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Jaguars GM On Pressure, Jack, Fowler Jr.

Dave Caldwell took over as the Jaguars general manager in 2013. Since then, the squad has gone 12-36.

Jan 18, 2013; Jacksonville FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars new general manager Dave Caldwell speaks at a press conference at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Phil Sears-USA TODAY Sports

Fortunately, there’s reason for optimism in Jacksonville. The offense seemed to have taken major steps forward in 2015, and 2016 will see the addition of several talented defenders. In fact, our own Zach Links picked the Jags to secure one of the AFC’s wild card spots!

Caldwell recently sat down with Ryan O’Halloran of Jacksonville.com to discuss the pressure of being a GM, as well as the additions of defenders Myles Jack and Dante Fowler Jr.. The whole interview is worth reading, but we snagged some of the more notable soundbites below…

On whether there’s additional pressure in fourth year on job:

“Not any more than the previous three years. Our pressure comes from within. … We’ve been doing this for four years, and to have a winning record is probably a reasonable expectation. I think [owner Shad Khan] will make a decision at the end of 16 games and say it’s the direction he likes or doesn’t.”

On not rushing rookie linebacker Myles Jack:

“I’m encouraged by the idea of taking a player in the second round and not needing them to be an impact player right away. That’s a good thing. When he gets on the field, he’ll be a very good player. The fact he doesn’t have to right away is a good thing for this organization.”

On Dante Fowler’s return from injury:

“It’s been truly interesting to see him come off an ACL injury like he has and have the amount of explosion and quickness and speed he possesses and not even for one second think about that injury. He’s flying around, he’s working his tail off in practice and doing a good lot things. He’s getting the rust off. Like our rookies, as the season goes along, he’s going to be a much better player.”

Extra Points: Jets, Fowler, Jaguars, Bolts

Jets quarterback Geno Smith, Ravens tackle Eugene Monroe, and Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner are among the veteran players who may have been put on notice as a result of their respective teams’ draft picks last weekend, writes Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. PFR’s Dallas Robinson singled out all three of those players, and a handful of others, when he explored the same subject earlier in the week.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • One year ago today, Dante Fowler suffered a torn ligament in his knee, ending his rookie season before it began. The Jaguars, understandably, want to take things slowly with last year’s No. 3 overall pick. “Everything that we’ve seen, the drill work he’s done, the running, the reports we hear — he looks really good,” coach Gus Bradley said, as Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union writes. “I think he just needs reps now and that’s when it will come, in the OTAs. We’re just taking it day by day with him and seeing his conditioning level.” Fowler notched 8.5 sacks in his final season at Florida and finished his three-year Gators career with 14.5 sacks in total.
  • In the wake of the 2016 draft, the Chargers are the latest team to make changes to their personnel department. A source tells Alex Marvez of FOX Sports (Twitter link) that San Diego’s changes will include the dismissal of at least one staff member.
  • Woody Paige of The Denver Post wonders if Mose Frazier will be the next great free agent to make the Broncos‘ roster. Frazier, a Memphis product, was quarterback Paxton Lynch‘s favorite target at Memphis. In the past two seasons, Frazier has caught 117 passes from the quarterback for 1,305 yards. Despite his chemistry with Lynch, he might be facing an uphill battle in Denver. As of this writing, the Broncos have eleven wide receivers under contract.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Jaguars Rumors: Fowler, M. Lewis, Gerhart

Speaking today to reporters, including Michael DiRocco of ESPN.com (Twitter link), Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said he doesn’t expect much to come of the NFL’s investigation into the Dante Fowler Jr. video published by TMZ earlier this week. The league confirmed that it is looking into the video, noting that it contained “disturbing images,” but it sounds like the Jags GM doesn’t expect Fowler to be disciplined as a result.

Here are a few more items of interest from Caldwell’s press conference in Indianapolis today:

  • Caldwell hopes to have a deal done with tight end Marcedes Lewis before the new league year begins on March 9th, per DiRocco (via Twitter). While Lewis has seen his role as a pass catcher reduced in recent years, the Jaguars still need a blocking tight end to complement Julius Thomas, so if Lewis is willing to remain in that role, it makes sense that the two sides should be able to work something out.
  • There’s a good chance that running back Toby Gerhart will be back with the Jaguars in 2016, according to Caldwell (Twitter link via DiRocco). Gerhart has underwhelmed during his time in Jacksonville so far, but the GM thinks there will be a role for him going forward, and the team certainly has the cap space to afford him.
  • The Jaguars’ staff is currently evaluating whether or not defensive end Chris Clemons will remain on the team going forward, per DiRocco. According to Caldwell, the plan is to reach out to the veteran defender’s representatives soon. I identified Clemons and Gerhart as possible release candidates when I previewed the Jaguars’ offseason earlier this month.

NFL: Video Involving Jags’ Dante Fowler Jr. Contains ‘Disturbing Images’

A video involving two women fighting while Dante Fowler Jr. observes and then tries to stop the brawl surfaced today on TMZ Sports. The website refers to the women who scuffle in this video recorded at an apartment complex earlier this month as the mother of Fowler’s child and a woman believed to be Fowler’s current girlfriend Dante Fowler Jr. (Featured)

The NFL released a brief statement characterizing the video as containing “disturbing images,” (link via Hays Carlyon of the Florida Times-Union), and will review the matter.

The Jaguars’ 2015 first-round pick, Fowler does not throw a punch in the video and breaks up the fight.

According to Carlyon, this fight occurred Feb. 1. The Jaguars and Fowler released statements following the NFL’s comment, and the Jaguars’ comments indicate Fowler informed the team of the incident before the video surfaced.

I am embarrassed and have apologized for my actions to everyone involved,” Fowler said in his statement. “As a family, we have been dealing with this moment and the conflict that led to it since this occurred. The video surfacing is a sad reminder that emotions got the best of all of us. I take 100 percent responsibility for everything that happened

No police report of this incident exists.

Fowler missed all of his rookie season due to tearing his ACL during the first day of the Jags’ rookie minicamp last spring.

Photo courtesy USA Today Sports Images