In the 2015 NFL draft, the Falcons were looking at top pass rushers. They were frequently linked to Dante Fowler, Jr., who still-current head coach Dan Quinn helped to recruit to play for Florida. Quinn was reportedly a “big fan” back in 2015.
Quinn never had a shot at drafting Fowler, who went third overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Falcons ended up with Vic Beasley. In retrospect, neither player was worth such lofty draft slots. Fowler never did much with Jacksonville, outside of an embarrassing arrest.
The Falcons exercised Beasley’s fifth-year option while the Jaguars traded Fowler to the Los Angeles Rams before the trade deadline. Fowler thrived next to Aaron Donald and notched 11.5 sacks in 2019.
Neither is an elite option, but per Tony Pauline of something called Pro Football Network, Fowler wants to play in Atlanta.
I’m told Fowler wants to play in Atlanta for the Falcons. It’s going to cost a pretty penny, but if the Falcons offer Fowler a competitive offer I think he ends up in Atlanta.
If true, the Falcons will let Austin Hooper walk in favor of Fowler. They simply cannot afford both. Pauline was famously the only analyst that linked Keanu Neal to the Falcons, but was also far off on the 2019 draft where the Falcons refused to trade up to select a defensive lineman.
As it is, Fowler will probably strongly consider any competitive offer which will overlook his time not playing next to the league’s greatest defender. If Quinn was still a huge fan, it is odd he would not match the 3rd and 5th round pick the Rams offered for their 1.5 year rental in 2018. The Rams are almost guaranteed to get a solid compensatory pick when he signs elsewhere so their investment was pretty limited.