Jets Can Get Jumpstart on Free Agency by Adding Former No. 3 Overall Pick

Dante Fowler Jr, Falcons

Getty Former Atlanta Falcons pass rusher Dante Fowler Jr trying to make a play in an NFL game.

Technically speaking free agency doesn’t start until the new league year officially kicks off on March 16.

Although players that are released prior to that date are immediately cast into the free-agent pool and are up for grabs.

On Wednesday, February 16, the Atlanta Falcons announced that they had released veteran pass rusher, Dante Fowler Jr., The talented sack specialist originally signed a three-year deal for $45 million to join the Dirty Birds back in 2020.

They say the early bird catches the worm, but in this case, it could be a dynamic pass rusher at the end of the rainbow.

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An Opportunity to Kick the Tires

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When general manager Joe Douglas was first hired he said that he would turn over every rock to try and improve the Jets roster.

The surprising release of Fowler is a perfect example of a player becoming available that you didn’t necessarily expect.

It is no secret that the Jets need more help on the EDGE. Gang Green ranked 26th in the league last year in sacks with only 33, per Stat Muse.

In Fowler’s seven professional seasons he has recorded 35 sacks, 59 quarterback hits, and has 10 forced fumbles to his name.

He is a hired mercenary that can get after the opposing quarterback. While he hasn’t been his dominant self since 2019, Fowler is still only 27 years of age (will be 28 by the start of the 2022 season).

There is still a lot of gas left in the tank and if used properly could get himself back to the double-digit sack days from the past.

A Long History of Connective Tissue

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The Jets have been connected to Fowler since his college days and leading up to the 2015 NFL draft. He was the No. 3 overall pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars out of Florida and thus the Jets never got a chance to select him.

Years later when the Jaguars opened up the trade conversations, the Jets were mentioned as a suitor, but once again a pairing didn’t come to fruition.

Then when he reached free agency it seemed like finally, he would hook up with the Jets, but alas, the two were kept separate once again.

It has been a weird connection between said player and random franchise over the last seven years, but perhaps the eighth year is the charm?

Fowler is suddenly in need of a home and the Jets have obvious needs at pass rusher.

He alone wouldn’t fill the massive void on the Gang Green defense, but his presence would certainly help.

With how often Robert Saleh likes to rotate his defensive linemen in and out to stay fresh, this could be a perfect landing spot for the former first-rounder.

Fowler is still getting paid by the Falcons who had to eat over $4.6 million in dead cap to release him this week. That could mean the talented pass rusher is open to taking a flier deal with a team to raise his stock back up ahead of free agency in 2023.

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