The Dallas Cowboys have a bit of a dilemma on their hands. Randy Gregory could possibly leave via free agency, and while it’s not as likely, DeMarcus Lawrence is still potentially a salary cap victim. If those things happen, the final defensive position would have to be addressed at some point this offseason, whether it’s in free agency or the 2022 NFL Draft, maybe both.
While returning with DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory is still an option for the Cowboys, formulating a contingency plan in case that doesn’t happen would be a wise move on their part. That’s why they could target free agent defensive end Dante Fowler, who the Atlanta Falcons surprisingly released a few weeks ago.
Fowler, now 27, signed a three-year, $48 million deal in Atlanta in 2020. The deal was done with then-Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, who is currently entering his second year as coach. as defensive coordinator for the Cowboys.
The connection between Dan Quinn and Dante Fowler actually goes back further than their short time with the Atlanta Falcons. Surprisingly, Quinn was also Fowler’s position coach at the University of Florida, which Fowler says led to their meeting in Atlanta.
“He certainly played a huge role in that,” Fowler said. “We just built a relationship at that time. He always came to see me, talk to me. Everything was authentic. He spoke to me about many things as a man. Just during that one year period that I was there 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 passing thrower on the Cowboys’ radar if they are 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 bond.
With all that in mind, the Dallas Cowboys seem like a pretty good landing spot for former Jaguars, Rams and Falcons pass rushers. In fact, the Cowboys have been identified as one of the top three fits for Dante Fowler according to The Draft Network‘s Justin Melo.
Fowler played for current Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn in Atlanta in 2020, as Quinn was part of the scheme that landed Fowler a lucrative three-year contract with the Falcons. Several other coaches on that staff who 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 candidate for his defense in the first place. The Cowboys may have to do some good business this offseason, and Fowler makes sense if they lose one or two of their designated passers.
Dante Fowler may or may not have three of his former coaches recruit him to Dallas, but ultimately it will all 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 go their way. All we can do now is sit back and wait to see what happens.