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Veteran edge rusher Dante Fowler released by the Atlanta Falcons

Still only 27 years old, edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. has been somewhat of an enigma since the Jacksonville Jaguars made him the No. 3 pick in the 2015 NFL Draft.

It now looks like the former Florida star will be calling another NFL city home in 2022 after spending the past two seasons with the Atlanta Falcons.

With his contract set to void next month, the Falcons announced on Wednesday that they have released Fowler. This gives Fowler an opportunity to get a head start on free agency. He’ll have roughly a month with the market all to himself as other pending NFL free agents remain in a holding pattern.

Fowler was signed to a three-year, $45 million contract by Atlanta back in March of 2020. The hope was that he’d provide a consistent pass rush from out on the edge. It never really came to fruition with the talented defender recording all of 16 quarterback hits and 7.5 sacks in two seasons.

Related: Top 2022 NFL free agents

Dante Fowler hits free agency early, could land with new team soon

dante fowler released by the atlanta falcons
December 19, 2021; Santa Clara, California, USA; Atlanta Falcons outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. (6) during the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta did Fowler a solid by releasing him at this early stage of the offseason. As noted above, he’s now free to sign with a team of his choosing.

Despite some inconsistent play during his six-year NFL career, Fowler has flashed brilliance at times.

  • Dante Fowler stats (2017): 10 quarterback hits, eight sacks
  • Dante Fowler stats (2019): 16 quarterback hits, 11.5 sacks

As you can see, Fowler’s 2019 performance was the best of his career. It came with the Los Angeles Rams after being acquired from Jacksonville the previous season. It also netted Fowler that aforementioned contract with Atlanta.

At this point, it stands to reason that Fowler will be limited to teams who run 3-4 defensive schemes. For the most part, that’s the type of defense he has played in. However, we wouldn’t put it past other teams to show interest in the still-young 27-year-old pass rusher.