And Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox doesn’t think he will bounce back this season and projected him as the team’s biggest potential disappointment in 2021.
Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. agreed to a pay reduction earlier this offseason. However, he’s still set to carry a cap hit of $10.7 million, which is a lot for a player who had just three sacks a season ago.
The Falcons are hopeful that Fowler can rebound this season.
“He’s a talented, tough and rugged man,” outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said last month, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think once we apply those things to his game on all three downs, I think it’s going to help our defense and help our team.”
The problem is that aside from a strong 2019 season with the Los Angeles Rams, Fowler has been mediocre at best as an edge-rusher. He had 11.5 sacks while playing alongside Aaron Donald that year and just 19 sacks over his other four pro seasons.
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Fowler Was Forced To Take a Pay Cut
Fowler was drafted third overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2015 NFL draft. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 2018 where he helped take them to a Super Bowl.
Heading into the 2020 season, the Falcons inked Fowler to a three-year, $45 million deal as a free agent. He was fresh off a season in which he recorded 58 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits, but a high ankle sprain kept him from duplicating those numbers this past year.
After he recorded just three sacks in 2020, Atlanta asked him to take an incentive-laden contract that will pay him by the sack next season.
But, Falcons’ new outside linebackers coach, Ted Monachino, is excited to be the one to get him back on track.
“The most I remember about Dante is when he came out of college, he was the prototype, the No. 1 guy in that draft that year,” Monachino said via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “When I looked at him, I knew that the league was strange in certain ways, I hoped that I could coach him right away, but at some point in his career, I’d hoped that, and he and I crossed paths.”
Arthur Smith Shares Update on Fowler’s Health
Fowler morphing back into his 2019 form and leading the team with double-digit sacks could be a long shot in the midst of a defense that’s in a full rebuild mode.
However, it will come down to his health and the shape he is in and head coach Arthur smith likes what he’s seen from the veteran so far.
“It was good to see Dante,” Smith told reporters on Thursday, June 10. “He’s in good shape. Physically, he’s done a nice job. He’s been training. This is the trust you have. These are grown men. When they come in and out here, he knows what the expectation is for training camp. Dante has looked good so far.”
We’ll get a better look at Fowler once training camp kicks off at the end of July.