What will the Falcons do with Dante Fowler?

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Dante Fowler won’t be playing for the Falcons this year at his current cap hit of $18,541,666. The former Florida Gator had career lows in every major statistical category for pass rushers — one forced fumble, three sacks, and four tackles for loss. Quarterback pressures are the most indicative statistic that a pass-rusher is consistently affecting a game; sacks can sometimes be inflated.

A sack where an EDGE defender wins a 1-on-1 (or 1-on-2) over a blocker due to the rusher’s skill, move(s), and/or athletic ability is much more impressive than a sack coming as a result of being unblocked or because of a scheme, such as a twist or a stunt, in which no special skill was required. Always pay attention to pressure rates.


Chase wrote an overreaction piece on the former Rams’ contract after a Week 7 loss to the Lions. A quote from the article,

Every season, it seemed like Fowler got a little bit better, which culminated with his performance last year in which he racked up 58 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 16 TFL, and 16 QB hits — all career-highs. However, while I was never worried about Fowler being an upgrade over Beasley, I was concerned that last season was more of a flash in the pan rather than something he would produce every year, and so far in 2020, that has proven to be the case.

Dante Fowler is owed quite a large sum of money over the next two years. Jake examined his contract, noting the possible options and their financial ramifications.

2021 Pre June 1st Cut:                                                                  2022 Pre June 1st Cut:
  • Dead Cap: $15.3 million                                                                   Dead Cap: $4.7 million         
  • Savings: $3.3 million                                                                         Savings: $14 million
2021 Pre June 1st Trade:                                                              2022 Pre June 1st Trade:
  • Dead Cap: $4.7 million                                                                      Dead Cap: $4.7 million
  • Savings: $14 million                                                                           Savings: $15 million
2021 Post June 1st Cut:                                                                 2022 Post June 1st Cut:
  • Dead Cap: $10.7 million                                                                   Dead Cap: $4.7 million
  • Savings: $8 million                                                                             Savings: $15 million
2021 Post June 1st Trade:                                                             2022 Post June 1st Trade:
  • Dead Cap: $4.7 million                                                                     Dead Cap: $4.7 million
  • Savings: $14 million                                                                           Savings: $15 million


With Fowler’s trade value lower than ever, finding a partner would probably require giving up draft picks. There are three strategies — pay cut, restructure, or release — that Terry Fontenot can use to reduce Fowler’s cap hit.

Cutting him with a post-June 1st designation would save Atlanta $8 million, but with more dead cap than savings; I doubt Fontenot goes that route. Restructuring Fowler’s contract doesn’t make sense either, as teams don’t usually restructure players coming off of a career-worst year. That leaves Fowler taking a pay cut.

Fontenot won’t have to convince Fowler to do this because it will be either that or an outright cut. Fowler couldn’t get an offer in free agency even close to how much a pay cut on the Falcons would be. Expect either an outright release or Fowler to take a pay cut; it is difficult for me to imagine a scenario where Fontenot pays him over $18 million in 2021.

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