Cowboys Could Lose Pass Rusher to Commanders After Dan Quinn Hire

Former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and current Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn

Getty Former Dallas Cowboys defensive coordinator and current Washington Commanders head coach Dan Quinn

The Dallas Cowboys will be seeing their former defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, twice a year with the Washington Commanders for the foreseeable future. With several Cowboys set to test free agency, it’s possible they may see some of their ex-teammates — Dante Fowler Jr., in particular — standing on the Commanders’ sideline with Quinn.

“From college to the pros, Dante Fowler has a long history with Quinn and could follow him to Washington like he did in Dallas,” Blogging the Boys’ Brian Martin wrote on February 6. “Like Dorance Armstrong, he’s been a key rotational piece for the Cowboys the last two seasons, registering 4.0 and 6.0 QB sacks in that two-year span. He’d add much-needed depth for the Commanders and would come relatively cheap considering the contracts he signed recently.”

Fowler, 29, signed back-to-back one-year, $3 million deals in 2022 and 2023 after spending the first six years of his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Los Angeles Rams and Atlanta Falcons.

Armstrong, 26, also is set to be a free agent after six years with the Cowboys.

According to a January story by Nick Harris of, Armstrong “will look to pair his strong year on the field with a sizable contract this offseason. As a pass-rusher that has shown consistency and reliability over the last two seasons, Armstrong could be in line for a payday.”

In Pro Football Focus’ rankings of the top 150 free agents, Armstrong was 85th and Fowler did not make the list.

Dante Fowler Jr.’s Time in Dallas

Arriving in the NFL as the third overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, Fowler has been around the block. It’s safe to say that he’s never hit star billing in the NFL. But he has been a useful pass-rushing player.

Entering the 2020 season, Fowler was looking for a team. Quinn, who coached Fowler at the University of Florida, was then the head coach of the Falcons and signed him up. And when Quinn was fired ahead of the 2021 offseason and subsequently hired by Dallas, Fowler followed him again in 2022.

Over two years in Dallas, Fowler totaled 10 sacks and three forced fumbles. He never made a start, but he also never missed a game in 2022 or 2023. For a rotational player, that’s an ideal situation.

Cowboys Could Bring Back Mike Zimmer

As Quinn gets set up in Washington, the Cowboys are still looking for their next DC. One of the confirmed names to interview is Mike Zimmer, the former Minnesota Vikings head coach who was also a longtime DC in Dallas.

NFL media insider Tom Pelissero was the first to report the news on February 6.

“The Cowboys are interviewing former Vikings coach Mike Zimmer today for their defensive coordinator job, per source,” Pelissero wrote on X.

Zimmer has had plenty of NFL success since his initial stint in Dallas. Although his Vikings team fell short of a Super Bowl appearance, he took Minnesota to three playoff appearances.

His tenure as the Cowboys’ defensive coordinator lasted from 1999 to 2006. Hiring Zimmer could make sense given his familiarity with owner Jerry Jones and the organization, but he is a whole two years removed from the NFL. He spent 2022 with Deion Sanders and Jackson State, and was not employed in coaching during the 2023 season.