Dante Fowler labeled as Falcons’ biggest potential disappointment

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Back in 2019, the Falcons signed Dante Fowler to a three-year, $45 million contract with $22 million in guaranteed money. Fowler was coming off a season in which he recorded 58 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 16 tackles for loss and 16 quarterback hits. Those are quality numbers, and Atlanta bit hard on the former first-round pick out of Florida — where he and former Falcons head coach Dan Quinn had previously worked together.

What Atlanta’s former regime failed to contextualize was the amount that Fowler’s numbers could be inflated playing next to Aaron Donald. The team believed the young pass rusher’s career was progressing, but 2019 appears to have been more of a blip than a trend.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox labels the Falcons edge rusher as the team’s biggest potential disappointment ahead of the 2021 season.

Atlanta Falcons pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. agreed to a pay reduction earlier this offseason. However, he’s still set to carry a cap hit of $10.7 million, which is a lot for a player who had just three sacks a season ago.

The Falcons are hopeful that Fowler can rebound this season.

“He’s a talented, tough and rugged man,” outside linebackers coach Ted Monachino said last month, per D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think once we apply those things to his game on all three downs, I think it’s going to help our defense and help our team.”

The problem is that aside from a strong 2019 season with the Los Angeles Rams, Fowler has been mediocre at best as an edge-rusher. He had 11.5 sacks while playing alongside Aaron Donald that year and just 19 sacks over his other four pro seasons.

Many feel Atlanta’s new defensive coordinator, Dean Pees, will be able to help someone like Fowler better utilize his pass-rushing skill set. Pees is an expert at drawing up creative blitzes. However, with no true threat coming off the other edge, it may be best to temper expectations of the former first-rounder.

After restructuring his deal in the offseason, 2021 essentially becomes a contract year for Fowler in Atlanta.

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