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2020 FA preview: Is Dante Fowler worth paying up for?

February 12, 2020 05:37AM
Rams 2020 free agency preview: Is Dante Fowler worth paying up for?


Cameron DaSilva

One of the biggest decisions facing the Los Angeles Rams this offseason is whether or not to re-sign Dante Fowler Jr. to an extension. It’s the second straight year Fowler will become a free agent; last offseason, the Rams signed him to a one-year deal worth up to $14 million.

Being a 25-year-old edge rusher coming off the best season of his career, Fowler will be one of the more expensive players on the market in March. For a team with limited cap space like the Rams, that’s not a good sign for their chances to retain Fowler. So what should they do? That’s a difficult question to answer.

We’ll be previewing the 2020 free agency period for the Rams this month, analyzing their top pending free agents – starting with Fowler.

2019 stats: 11.5 sacks, 58 tackles, 16 TFL, 16 QB hits, 6 PD, 2 FF
PFF grade: 72.1 overall

There’s no denying the impact Fowler had with the Rams in 2019. He posted career-highs in every major category, including sacks, tackles, tackles for loss and QB hits. He also tied for ninth in the NFL in pass-rush win rate, which is a metric from ESPN to measure how often a pass rusher beats his primary blocker.

Fowler’s career year couldn’t have come at a better time after he bet on himself with a one-year deal last offseason. He likely could’ve gotten a long-term extension somewhere else last year, but he opted to play another season with the Rams and hit the free agent market in 2020.

He thrived on the outside with Aaron Donald rushing on the interior, which would help any edge rusher, admittedly. But when left alone on the edge, Fowler used his speed and athleticism to either turn the corner quickly and get to the quarterback or use a counter to get back inside.

The biggest question with Fowler is whether he’s a one-year wonder or someone who can be counted on to record double-digit sacks every season. That’s a question the Rams will have to answer, and one every other potential suitor will also be asking.

Positional need: High

If Fowler doesn’t return, the Rams’ top outside linebackers will be Clay Matthews, Samson Ebukam and Ogbonnia Okoronkwo. That’s not exactly a group of players to write home about. Retaining Fowler would be Option A for the Rams, but his price might be too high for their liking.

Being without a first-round pick will make it even tougher for Los Angeles to replace Fowler if he does depart in free agency, which complicates things a bit. Edge rusher is up there with linebacker and offensive line as the team’s top needs.

Prediction: Signs four-year, $68.5 million deal elsewhere

Ultimately, Fowler will be wearing another uniform next season. It won’t be because the Rams don’t view him as a top priority, but simply because he’s going to price his way out of their range.

He’ll sign a contract in the range of what Dee Ford ($17.1 million per year) and Za’Darius Smith ($16.5 million) got last offseason.

One other possibility for the Rams is tagging Fowler and trading him, just as the Chiefs did with Ford, the Seahawks did with Frank Clark and the Texans did with Jadeveon Clowney.

  2020 FA preview: Is Dante Fowler worth paying up for?

Rams43314February 12, 2020 05:37AM

  Tag and trade seems best move to me.

Rams43152February 12, 2020 05:38AM

  Any downside to tag-n-trade I wonder?

Suh-weet!111February 14, 2020 04:47PM

  Re: Any downside to tag-n-trade I wonder?

OzRam97February 14, 2020 09:50PM

  Re: Any downside to tag-n-trade I wonder?

AlbaNY_Ram77February 14, 2020 11:28PM

  The real question is: what positions are of most value in a Fangio Defense?

RockRam94February 15, 2020 04:45AM

  Re: The real question is: what positions are of most value in a Fangio Defense?

303092February 15, 2020 06:02AM

  what I got from reading that stuff

zn102February 15, 2020 06:44AM