Cowboys Sign Former Highly-Touted Pass Rusher: Report

Mike McCarthy

Getty The Cowboys are signing Dante Fowler.

The Dallas Cowboys are adding a former top draft pick to their roster.

As initially reported by Todd Archer of ESPN on Friday, March 18, the Cowboys are adding former No. 3 draft pick Dante Fowler. Both sides agreed to a one-year deal.

The 27-year-old Fowler has shown off his potential at times since entering the league in 2016, but he’s been very inconsistent. The defensive end posted 11.5 sacks during the 2019 season with the Los Angeles Rams. However, he has struggled drastically over the past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

Fowler has racked up just 7.5 sacks in his two seasons with the Falcons, which eventually led to his release in February.

He’ll be reunited with Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who began the 2020 season as Falcons head coach.

Why Cowboys Are Signing Fowler

Dallas will hope Fowler can regain some of that burst he showed off in Los Angeles as they look to replace key players. The Cowboys unexpectedly lost Randy Gregory to the Denver Broncos after the veteran pass-rushing specialist had initially agreed to return to Dallas.

Since that sudden change, the Cowboys have made moves to bolster the depth of their pass rush. They’ve re-signed Dorance Armstrong and Leighton Vander Esch in addition to signing Fowler.

According to Pro Football Focus, Fowler posted a 55.9 defensive grade in 2021, ranking 87th among all edge rushers. His 2020 season was even worse, as the former high draft pick posted just a 49.9 defensive grade, ranking 102nd of 108 qualifying edge rushers.

While Fowler has never been an elite player, the Cowboys are hoping for a semblance of the potential he showed off in 2019 when he posted a 72.0 defensive grade, ranking 34th among all edge rushers.

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Cowboys sign Receiver James Washington

The Cowboys are keeping busy in free agency.

Just prior adding Fowler to the mix, Dallas also signed former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver James Washington to a one-year deal on Friday. Washington was a former second-round draft pick who won the Fred Biletnikoff Award for the best receiver in college football in 2017.

Washington has never emerged as a true go-to receiver, but he has shown flashes as a secondary one. The 25-year-old posted 44 receptions for 735 receiving yards during the 2019 season. However, his production has since declined as he’s posted a combined 54 receptions for 677 receiving yards in the past two seasons.

According to PFF, Washington was one of the worst-ranking receivers in the league during the 2021 season. He posted a 52.9 offensive grade, ranking 111th among 115 qualifying receivers. Dallas will hope that Washington can show off more of his production from the 2019 season when he posted a 69.3 offensive grade, 59th among all receivers.

Dallas will likely look to use Washington in a potential slot role. The young receiver is capable of playing in the slot (190 snaps in 2021) and out wide (311 snaps). With the Cowboys moving on from Amari Cooper and Cedrick Wilson, Dallas will return CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup as their top receivers.

Washington will compete with Noah Brown, TJ Vasher and Simi Fehoko for the No. 3 receiver role in training camp.

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