Dante Fowler Jr.

Cowboys, DE Dante Fowler Agree To Deal

Linked to acclaimed edge rushers in free agency, the Cowboys made their move at the position Friday. They are signing former top-five pick Dante Fowler, Todd Archer of ESPN.com reports (on Twitter).

This will reunite Fowler and Dan Quinn, who was the head coach in Atlanta when Fowler signed with the Falcons in 2020. The two did not stay together long, with the Falcons firing Quinn early that season. This stands to be a higher-profile partnership. It’s a one-year deal, per ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter).

[RELATED: Cowboys To Re-Sign DL Dorance Armstrong]

Fowler’s production has yo-yoed during his seven-year career. He helped the Jaguars’ “Sacksonville” defense reach the 2017 AFC championship game and was a starter in Super Bowl LIII for the Rams, after a midseason trade. Fowler timed his initial contract year well, producing 11.5 sacks alongside Aaron Donald in 2019. That led to a big-ticket Falcons deal, one the team ended up regretting.

Fowler played 14 games in each of the past two seasons but did not top 4.5 sacks in either. The Falcons adjusted his three-year contract and released him earlier this offseason, allowing an early trip to the market for a player who was already on track for free agency. The Cowboys’ edge plans changed abruptly this week, when Randy Gregory backtracked on an agreement due to guarantee-forfeiture language in his contract. Gregory is now in Denver. The Cowboys pursued Von Miller as well, but a big Bills offer steered the future Hall of Famer to western New York.

Pairing with DeMarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons stands to be a strong opportunity for Fowler to re-establish his value during his age-28 season. After his two down Atlanta years, the former No. 3 overall pick is running out of time to do so.

Falcons Release OLB Dante Fowler

Because of a 2021 restructure, Dante Fowler was set to be a free agent at the start of the new league year in March. The Falcons moved up that timetable, making the veteran edge defender available now.

Atlanta moved Fowler’s contract off its books Wednesday, releasing him a month before the start of the 2022 league year, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Because of the bonus proration, this move still tags the Falcons with more than $4MM in dead money. For Fowler, this separation is a chance for him to catch on with a team before free agency opens.

Fowler did well on the 2020 market, signing a three-year deal worth $48MM. The Falcons did not receive especially good value on the contract. The former Jaguars and Rams pass rusher registered just 7.5 sacks in 28 games with the Falcons, totaling 16 quarterback hits in that span. Fowler finished with 11.5 sacks and 16 QB hits during his Rams contract year in 2019. Fowler redoing his deal last March voided the final year of his contract.

Because of his past two seasons, it should not be expected Fowler will do nearly as well as a free agent this year. However, the former top-five pick is just 27 and has a couple of strong seasons on his resume. He recorded eight sacks with the Jags back in 2017, helping the team to the AFC championship game as a rotational rusher.

Most of the high-end edge rushers on this year’s market are older than Fowler, with the likes of Von Miller, Chandler Jones, Jason Pierre-Paul, Jadeveon Clowney and Mario Addison being among the biggest names set to be available. Fowler will have the advantage of being able to sign earlier, and it will be interesting how teams value him ahead of free agency.

Falcons Activate Dante Fowler From IR

Suddenly in the thick of the NFC playoff race, the Falcons will have their top edge rusher back in uniform going forward. Dante Fowler is back on Atlanta’s active roster.

The veteran edge defender spent three weeks on IR due to a knee injury. While Fowler has not produced for the Falcons the way he did with the Rams, the seventh-year pass rusher still represents a key defender who will be back for the 4-4 team.

Fowler, who signed a three-year deal worth $48MM in 2020, restructured his contract this year. That amounted to a pay cut, and the former top-five pick is now on track for free agency in 2022. That will make the second half of this season pivotal to the 27-year-old sack artist’s future.

After recording just three sacks last season, Fowler registered two sacks and just three quarterback hits in his first five games this year. That total, however, still leads the Falcons, who only have 11 as a team. That ranks 32nd this season.

Additionally, the Falcons placed edge defender Steven Means on IR and promoted tight end Parker Hesse from their practice squad. Means, 31, has started each of Atlanta’s games this season and was a first-stringer in 11 games in 2020.

Falcons Move Dante Fowler To IR

Dante Fowler will be sidelined into November. The Falcons placed the veteran edge rusher on injured reserve Friday, knocking him out for at least the next three games.

The former top-five pick went down during Atlanta’s Week 5 win in London and has not recovered, leading to the Falcons ruling him out for Week 7 after their bye. After not practicing this week, Fowler will be down until at least Week 10.

Despite missing his entire rookie season due to an ACL during sustained during the Jaguars’ rookie minicamp, Fowler has been durable over the past five-plus seasons. His only other multigame absence came last season, when a positive COVID-19 test led to two missed games.

Thus far in his second Falcons season, Fowler has two sacks and three quarterback hits. Fowler signed a three-year, $48MM deal with the Falcons in 2020 but accepted a pay reduction this offseason, rather than ending up a cap casualty in a buyer’s market. The contract adjustment has Fowler on track to hit free agency again in 2022, which will certainly make the second half of this season pivotal for the 27-year-old sack artist.

Falcons’ Dante Fowler Takes Pay Cut

The Falcons have a little extra room to work with. Edge rusher Dante Fowler has agreed to a pay cut for the coming year, as Jeff Schultz of The Athletic tweets.

[RELATED: Bills Trade TE Lee Smith To Falcons]

Fowler joined the Falcons on a three-year, $48MM deal last year, but didn’t produce in his first season with the team. The Florida product posted just three sacks and four tackles for a loss, versus 11.5 sacks and 16 tackles in the previous season with the Rams.

Before that, Fowler spent the first four-plus seasons of his career with the Jaguars, including a rookie campaign that was wiped out thanks to a torn ACL. The Falcons had high hopes for him, especially since he found national fame playing under then-head coach Dan Quinn at UF.

Fowler was originally set for an $18.5MM cap hit with $13MM in base salary. Terms of the revised deal have not been disclosed, but the Falcons will save on both portions.

Falcons To Sign Dante Fowler Jr.

Dante Fowler Jr. has agreed to sign with the Falcons, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. It’s a three-year deal for the pass rusher (per Rapoport). Fowler will be getting a whopping $48MM over the three years, ESPN’s Vaughn McClure tweets.

The former third-overall pick joined the Rams via trade midway through the 2018 season. He finally exploded for a career season in 2019, finishing with career-highs in tackles (58), sacks (11.5), passes defended (six), and forced fumbles (two).

Fowler had spent the first four-plus seasons of his career with the Jaguars, including a rookie campaign that was wiped out thanks to a torn ACL.

In Atlanta, he’ll be playing under head coach Dan Quinn, who actually worked with Fowler when the two were at Florida. He’ll immediately provide some reinforcement to a pass rush that recently lost Vic Beasley via free agency.

With the Falcons being low in space space, the past two days have mostly been highlighted by players they’ve released, including running back Devonta Freeman. Otherwise, they’ve extended defensive tackle Tyeler Davison and traded for tight end Hayden Hurst.

According to Rapoport, the Rams tried to retain Fowler. The team has already seen several key defensive free agents leave, including linebacker Cory Littleton (Raiders) and defensive lineman Michael Brockers (Ravens).

Jets Targeting Pass Rushers

The Jets are seeking some pass-rush help, and they’re eyeing some of the top names on the market. Sources tell Connor Hughes of The Athletic that “the Jets are doing their homework on Jadeveon Clowney” and are among the teams “in on him.” The Jets are also planning to “actively pursue” Rams pass rusher Dante Fowler.

The team could alternatively look to the trade market for help. Hughes writes that the Jets are expected to make a call on Ravens defensive end Matt Judon, who is expected to receive the franchise tag after finishing 2019 with a career-high 9.5 sacks. However, Hughes cautions that the organization may be wary to give up too much draft capital, especially when they’re looking to fill holes via the draft.

Hughes also expects the Jets to be in on a number of offensive lineman, including Joe Thuney and Graham Glasgow. We heard yesterday that the organization was planning on pursuing Redskins lineman Trent Williams. The front office could even pursue cornerback James Bradberry, according to the writer.

The Jets will have a whole lot of money to throw at a pass-rusher, as they’re currently sitting with more than $60MM in projected cap space. Hughes notes that the organization could easily move on from the likes of cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson, lineman Brian Winters, and others, which would open up an additional $20MM to $27MM in cap space.

Rams HC, GM Discuss Offseason

It’s been a busy 24 months for the Rams, and it’ll all culminate with a crucial 2020 offseason.

They’ve handed out a number of high-priced extensions to quarterback Jared Goff, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, and others, leading to only $21MM in cap space this year. The organization also traded their 2020 and 2012 first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey, leaving the team with reduced draft capital.

Plus, the organization is staring at a long list of impending unrestricted free agents. In other words, the Rams could look a bit different next season.

Head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead spoke to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry about some of their critical offseason decisions. The entire article is worth a read, but we snagged some of the notable soundbites below:

On if the front office has engaged in any trade talks:

McVay: “Usually, Aaron Donald is off the table. I think, to answer your question, I think you kind of know who are the guys that there’s not something that would be worth it, but those are ongoing conversations and I think we’re always open to being able to explore things that can upgrade us as a team.

“What we have done a nice job of is identifying those foundational pieces to try to build around.”

Snead: “This time of year, it is interesting. You get calls on a lot of players. There’s a new era, in that somebody may call and ask about your best player, which in the past, I don’t know that phone call would be made. … But usually the answer is ‘No.'”

On free agent left tackle Andrew Whitworth‘s potential return:

McVay: “We’re pretty confident. He still played a really high level last year. His impact isn’t exclusive to just playing the left tackle position.”

On free agent kicker Greg Zuerlein:

McVay: “He’s done so many things and he’s a great kicker and I think those established veterans are so important, especially when every time he takes the field, there’s points at stake, unless he’s kicking off. But we want to make sure we’re evaluating the guys in the draft and then we’re going to have free agency.”

On potential extensions for receiver Cooper Kupp and safety John Johnson:

Snead: “The goal would be, let’s say guys like those two, if we do want them to get back, it would be great to have that box checked. What we have to do now is, because we have, I call it more urgent guys whose contracts actually expire, get through that process first and then move on to — I don’t want to call them less urgent — but less urgent than the players whose contracts are expiring.”

On potentially franchising free agent linebackers Dante Fowler or Cory Littleton:

Snead: “All options are on the table.”

NFLPA Wins Grievance Against Jaguars

The NFL Players Association has won a grievance against the Jaguars and has released a rather scathing statement on the team’s policies, as Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets.

The entire statement from the union may be found at the Twitter link above, but essentially, the Jags (read: executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin) have recently required their players to get all offseason medical treatment at the team facility. When players failed to do so, they were disciplined by the club.

For instance, one player — whom Mark Long of the Associated Press identified as former Jaguar and current Ram Dante Fowler (Twitter link) — was fined 25 times for a total of $700K in 2018 for missing offseason appointments at Jacksonville headquarters. Fowler confirmed (via Twitter) that he was indeed the player referenced in the statement, and he said, “[the Jaguars] literally hated me.” All of the fines have now been rescinded.

An arbitrator found that, except in very limited circumstances, offseason activities of any kind are voluntary and a team cannot make them mandatory. The statement goes on to say that, in the last two years — Coughlin has served in his current post since 2017 — 25% of grievances filed by NFL players have been filed against the Jaguars.

This development obviously reflects poorly on the Jags, who are expected to make major organizational changes this offseason. That could include the departure of Coughlin, which may not be a bad thing as far as attracting free agents is concerned.

Contract Details: Joyner, Titans, Rams, Hart

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed contracts from around the NFL. Twitter links courtesy of Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, unless otherwise noted.