The Dallas Cowboys have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. Randy Gregory could possibly leaving via free agency, and while not as likely, DeMarcus Lawrence is still potentially a salary cap casualty. If those things came to pass, the defensive end position would need to be addressed at some point this offseason, whether it’s in free agency or the 2022 NFL Draft, possibly both.
While running it back with both DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory is still an option for the Cowboys, formulating a contingency plan in the event that doesn’t happen would be a wise move on their part. That’s why they could have their sights set on free agent defensive end Dante Fowler, who the Atlanta Falcons somewhat surprisingly released a few weeks ago.
We have released Dante Fowler. https://t.co/5NjYFoOTDP— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) February 16, 2022
Fowler, now 27, was signed to a three-year, $48 million deal in Atlanta in 2020. That deal came under Dan Quinn, then the Falcons head coach, and now currently entering his second year as the Cowboys defensive coordinator.
The link between Dan Quinn and Dante Fowler actually goes back further than their short time together with the Atlanta Falcons. Surprisingly enough, Quinn was also Fowler’s position coach at the University of Florida, which according to Fowler led to their reunion in Atlanta.
“He definitely played a huge factor in it,” said Fowler. “We just built a relationship at that time. He used to always come and see me, talk to me. Everything was genuine. He talked to me about a lot of things as a man. Just over that one-year span of me being there with with him at UF, I went to his house. I met his wife. I had Thanksgiving with them.’’
The connection between Dan Quinn and Dante Fowler alone puts the 6’3”, 255-pound pass rusher on the Cowboys radar if they’re unable to re-sign Randy Gregory or part ways with DeMarcus Lawrence. But, having two other former coaches (Joe Witt Jr., Aden Durde) working with the Cowboys further strengthens that link.
With all of that in mind, the Dallas Cowboys sound like a pretty good landing spot for the former Jaguars, Rams, and Falcons pass rusher. In fact, the Cowboys were identified as one of the three best fits for Dante Fowler according to Justin Melo of The Draft Network.
Fowler played for current Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta in 2020, as Quinn was part of the regime that handed Fowler a lucrative three-year contract with the Falcons. Several other coaches from that staff that worked with Fowler in Atlanta followed Quinn to Dallas, including current Cowboys defensive line coach Aden Durde and secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr.
Things didn’t go particularly well for Fowler and Quinn in Atlanta, but there’s a reason Quinn identified him as an ideal fit for his defense in the first place. The Cowboys may have to do some bargain hunting this offseason, and Fowler makes sense should they lose one or two of their designated pass rushers.
Dante Fowler may or may not have three of his former coaches recruiting him to Dallas, but in the end it’s all going to come down to what the Cowboys decide to do with DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, and whether or not they deem him a worthy Plan B option if things don’t work out the way they want. All we can do now is sit back and wait to see what happens.