As a rookie with the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016, one year after they made him the third overall pick in the draft following a missed season, Dante Fowler recorded four sacks in 16 games. In year two, he was twice as productive in that category, recording eight sacks, but after two sacks in seven games in 2018, Fowler was traded to the LA Rams. He had two sacks in the final eight games.
So in two of three years, Fowler had four sacks, underwhelming for a pass rusher taken in the top-3.
Then on October 20, 2019 in a game against the Atlanta Falcons, Fowler sacked Matt Ryan midway through the first quarter. On Atlanta’s next series, he defended a pass to Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper. Late in the first half, Fowler sacked Ryan again, forcing a fumble and ensuring they wouldn’t be getting points before the break. Midway through the third, Fowler sacked Ryan for a third time and on the next series he tackled running back Brian Hill for a loss of six yards.
Fowler, who had four sacks in two of his first four years in the NFL, sacked Matt Ryan three times, had a forced fumble, a defended pass, and a tackle for a loss. The Rams won 37-10.
Now according to a new report by Tony Pauline, Fowler would like to play with Ryan and the Falcons instead of against them. Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn, retained for another year despite months of speculation that his seat was too hot, recruited Fowler to play at the University of Florida, where Quinn was the defensive line coach from 2011-2012. In 2015, Jacksonville drafted Fowler third overall and the Falcons selected pass rusher Vic Beasley five picks later.
Beasley led the NFL in sacks in 2016, but the upcoming free agent has been underwhelming in most respects ever since. Fowler has been on the opposite trajectory, though certainly doubts still exist about his abilities to play at a high level without Aaron Donald by his side. But both the Falcons and the Rams may lack the cap space to retain his services for 2020 and beyond.
Atlanta is thought to have maybe $5 million in space for next season and they have free agents such as Hooper, Beasley, and De’Vondre Campbell. LA may have about $15 million in space but even more in terms of starters and potential starters who are hitting free agency. Fowler, 25, could be looking at a deal that at least matches the $16.5 million per year that Za’Darius Smith got from the Green Bay Packers in 2019.