The Dallas Cowboys brought in a handful of veteran free agents this offseason, but none of them were given anything longer than a “prove it” contract.
Giving out one-year deals isn’t uncommon by any means, but Dallas has approached new deals for wide receiver James Washington, running back Ryan Nall and defensive end Dante Fowler Jr. with caution.
Washington and Fowler were signed after the prominent departures of WR Amari Cooper and DE Dante Fowler Jr., but they aren’t being compensated as if they are expected to be quality replacements. That’s because they aren’t, both are coming to Dallas with something to prove.
For Fowler Jr., a long-term contract is something the former Florida Gator is working toward. On April 19, Fowler Jr. spoke to the media and revealed that desire, but said he’s focused on performing before getting paid.
“I would love to be a Cowboy long term,” Fowler Jr. said, according to The Athletic reporter Jon Machota. “But right now, I just want to come in here and contribute and do what I have to do for the team so we can get these wins and get to the Super Bowl.”
That may be his desire, but Dallas obviously needs to see production in order to consider a long-term deal for the former third overall pick.
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Fowler Looking to Find 2019 Level
Coming out of Florida, Fowler was a highly-touted prospect that had just put together his best season in college. The Jacksonville Jaguars were sold, and the team took Fowler as the third overall pick in 2016.
That being said, his production as a top pick was lacking in Duval County. After four sacks in 2016, eight sacks in 2017 was a decent return. But after just two sacks in seven games in 2018 and the team heading for a losing record, Jacksonville traded Fowler to the Los Angeles Rams.
This is where Fowler found his top gear. Pro Football Reference shows that in 16 regular-season appearances, the 27-year-old totaled 11.5 sacks, two forced fumbles and six passes defended in 2019. That’s more of what teams expect out of a talent like Fowler.
But in 2020 and 2021, Fowler reverted back to his more typical output. In 28 appearances with the Falcons, the new Cowboys pass rusher put up 7.5 sacks.
Fowler Excited to Work With Cowboys DC Again
Fowler joins defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Dallas, who he worked with for the latter’s final season as the head coach of the Falcons in 2020. That year wasn’t especially great results-wise for Quinn and Fowler, but the two established a connection.
The Cowboys defensive end spoke on his connection with Quinn, and said that he doesn’t want to part ways with the defensive coach anytime soon. Dallas Morning News reporter Michael Gehlken shared the quote on Twitter.
“Cowboys DE Dante Fowler said Dan Quinn a ‘real dude. …I’m fine with just playing for him for the rest of my life, to be honest with you. That’s the type of coach he is. He knows the ins and outs of me, on the field and off the field. He knows my family. He knows me personally.'”
It’s always good to know the relationship between a player and coach are solid, but Cowboys fans will hope that it helps both in 2022 as Quinn and Fowler have something to prove.