The Los Angeles Rams went into the 2018 regular season with a talent deficiency at the edge rush hoping for one of their young, developing talents to break out. But by midseason, it was an obvious weakness that was not on the up. If the Rams were going to address before the 2019 offseason, it was going to take more than a street free agent.
Fowler’s career before joining the Rams has had some highs, but plenty of lows. The third overall pick from the 2015 NFL Draft out of Florida, Fowler missed his rookie season after tearing his ACL on the first day of mini-camp. He immediately was forced into a reduced role instead of the star defender that the Jaguars were hoping that they drafted.
So three years on when the Rams traded for Fowler, the hope for the Rams was that they were getting an edge rush upgrade on the cheap that still had potential untapped. The idea had merit - Fowler would not only stand up more off the line but play with the best defensive player in the game in Rams DL Aaron Donald.
Fowler played his best game as a Ram last week against the Detroit Lions. He finished with five tackles and a sack, but beyond the stats, he impacted the game with his pass rush and presence:
Should the Rams re-sign Fowler?
This is a very tough question.
Yes, Fowler has played well for the Rams, but what will he command on the open market? He hasn’t been too productive in his career, but (as the Rams showed with Fowler) teams always believe in their ability to get the more out of players than their prior employers. Plus, pass rushers are a hot commodity on the open market. The Rams also have young edge rushers on their defense like Samson Ebukam and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo that are developing; the team could save perhaps significant cap space if they rely on their young core and add to it through the draft rather than free agency.
On the other hand if the Rams and Fowler can come together near market terms, then it would make sense to bring him back. A dream scenario would be a one-year deal that gives Fowler a chance to not only prove his worth to the league but also give the Rams a buffer while they develop their young rushers.
But there are plenty of other teams out there many of whom will be willing to pay a premium for Fowler’s upside.
And given his performance this last weekend, that upside clearly isn’t too far out of reach.