Dan Quinn Favorite Can Boost Commanders’ Pass Rush in Free Agency

Dan Quinn

Getty Washington Commanders' head coach Dan Quinn can reunite with a favorite edge-rusher in 2024 NFL free agency.

The Washington Commanders logged just 39 sacks last season, so new head coach Dan Quinn could reunite with a favorite in free agency, edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. They’ve worked together with the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys, and Fowler would be a good fit to help the Commanders finally replace Chase Young and Montez Sweat.

Fowler is among the external free agents Ben Standig of The Athletic believes the Commanders should consider. He noted how “this would mark a fourth professional and college stop for Quinn with Fowler (four-plus sacks in three consecutive years).”

Quinn recruiting free agents who played on his Cowboys’ defenses would not only “fortify the defense depth.” It would also provide “locker room voices for a room likely inhabited by rookies and random newcomers seeking cohesion.”

Those intangibles are important, but Fowler’s track record of solid production on Quinn’s watch should intrigue Commanders’ general manager Adam Peters. He needs to retool a pass rush that fell flat once defensive ends Young and Sweat were traded to the San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears, respectively, back in October.

Dante Fowler Would Continue Success in Dan Quinn’s System

Fowler hasn’t exactly lived up to the billing as the third player selected in the 2015 NFL draft. Yet, he’s still recorded 45 career sacks, including 10 on Quinn’s watch during two years in Dallas.

Their partnership also yielded 33 pressures, 16 hurries and six quarterback knockdowns, per Pro Football Reference. One of Fowler’s best plays was this strip-sack of Mac Jones against the New England Patriots in Week 4, highlighted by Standig’s colleague Jon Machota.

Hybrid edge defenders like Fowler, who can act as standup rushers or attack from a three-point stance, are the stars in Quinn’s system. It’s a defense built on playing the run on the way to the quarterback and attacking the pocket in waves.

Adding Fowler to the depth chart would help the Commanders quickly get up to speed in the new scheme. Since Fowler played on a base salary of just $1.5 million in 2023, per Spotrac.com, Peters could acquire the 29-year-old for a bargain deal and still have the resources to add a blue-chip talent up front.

Dan Quinn Needs Multiple Pass-Rushers

Fowler isn’t the only bargain from the Cowboys who could reunite with Quinn. Defensive end Dorance Armstrong Jr. is considered a strong option, but the Commanders have the cap space to aim higher.

Peters has $96,088,007 at his disposal, more than enough to put the premium pass-rushers on the market on Washington’s radar. Proven edge defenders like Danielle Hunter, Za’Darius Smith and Jadeveon Clowney all merit consideration.

The same is true of outside linebacker Bryce Huff, who is coming off a breakout 10-sack season for the New York Jets. Huff could assume the same role roving All-Pro Micah Parsons played for Quinn with the Cowboys.

Pairing Huff with Fowler, or adding the two along with Armstrong, would give Quinn the multiple pass-rushers he needs to make his style of defense work. It will take a fleet of QB hunters to replace Young and Sweat, especially since incumbent defensive ends Casey Toohill, James Smith-Williams and Efe Obada are all free agents.

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