Our first — and possibly only — splash of the offseason is here, as edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. is coming to Atlanta.
#Rams free agent pass-rusher Dante Fowler is expected to sign with the #Falcons, sources tell me and @TomPelissero. A high-end pass-rusher lands in Atlanta. Coach Dan Quinn actually coached Fowler while at Florida.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 18, 2020
The Falcons officially have their replacement for Vic Beasley, and this was a move predicted by a lot of people around the NFL. Fowler started his career as the 3rd overall pick by Jacksonville in 2015. He tore his ACL on the first day of camp and missed his rookie year before bouncing back with four sacks. He seemed primed for a breakout after getting to the QB eight times the following season, but only managed a disappointing two sacks in Jacksonville before being traded to LA and tallying two more in 2018.
Fowler did, however, have 11.5 sacks last year for the Rams, and I’m sure having Aaron Donald command a double at all times helped with that. According to PFF, he totaled 67 pressures — the 12th most in the NFL.
Dante Fowler: 67 QB pressures tied for 12th in the regular season among edge defenders pic.twitter.com/vptKSIHjdy
— PFF (@PFF) March 18, 2020
Now, he gets to play with another premier defensive tackle. Fowler’s deal is worth $48 million over three years, according to Vaughn Mcclure of ESPN, which is quite a hefty contract for a team with severe cap restraints. However, with the salary cap expected to rise in 2021, this deal will most likely be backloaded. The Falcons can also save more money this year by restructuring some contracts and cutting the likes of Allen Bailey, but I would not expect many more substantial splashes in free agency — if any.