Falcons Edge Dante Fowler Opens Up About Injury, Taking Pay Cut

Dante Fowler Jr.

Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images Justin Herbert of the Los Angeles Chargers is pursued by Dante Fowler Jr. of the Atlanta Falcons on December 13, 2020.

Atlanta Falcons edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. signed a three-year $48 million deal with the Falcons in 2020, but he won’t be earning what he thought he would this season.

The Falcons financially struggled heading into the NFL draft and Fowler was one player who agreed to a pay reduction, which reduced his salary cap hit this fall.

The former Los Angeles Rams star edge opened up about his decision to agree to take a pay cut.

“The situation was basically me understanding what happened last year and stuff like that. And showing that I want to be here for a good amount of time,” stated Fowler told reporters on Monday. “I feel like under the circumstances that we were in, I felt like I could do my part to help the team get better in any type of way… Yes, it’s a tough decision.”

As one of the highest cap hits on the team, Fowler was set to make $18.541 million but the new amount will be $10.7 million.

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Fowler Had a Very Disappointing 2020 Season

When Fowler signed with the Falcons, he was coming off a career-best with the LA Rams in which he had 58 tackles (40 solo), plus a career high 11.5 sacks, with 16 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits, not to mention six passes defensed and two forced fumbles.

Coaches and fans expected him to reciprocate, but his 2020 numbers failed to match up. He finished the season registering just 23 tackles (12 solo), with three sacks, four tackles for loss, eight quarterback hits and one forced fumble. These are numbers that don’t exactly deserve $18 million, so the agreement to take a pay cut makes more sense. Also under the new deal, Fowler can hit the open market next season.

It’s worth noting that Fowler had been injured all of last year. In fact, he was injured even before the season began but we didn’t hear much about it.

The good news is, he feels better heading into this season.

Fowler Admits He ‘Should Have Went to IR’

“You know, I was hurt last year. It is what it is. I’m ready to make a statement and show you guys that last year was last year and put that behind us.”

Fowler suffered a high-ankle sprain in the second game of the season vs. Dallas and attempted to play through the injury.

“It was just one of those things,” Fowler said. “I was hurt. (Dan Quinn) that was my guy. I felt it was only right to play for him. (There) were times where I probably should have went to IR, but I didn’t.”

“I’m healthy,” Fowler said. “I’m ready to go.”

Head coach Arthur Smith is also pleased with what he’s seen since Fowler’s return from the reserve/ COVID-19 list.

“Since Dante has been back out there, he’s continuing to work,” Falcons coach Arthur Smith said. “He’s done a nice job getting here and learning, trying to earn a role. Learning what to do. I’m pleased with Dante so far and what he’s shown on the field.”


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