The Jacksonville Jaguars have decided not to exercise the fifth-year option for defensive end Dante Fowler, Jr. The option would have paid Fowler $14.2 million guaranteed in 2019 if he’s on the roster and is guaranteed if he’s injured in 2018 and could not pass a physical prior to the start of the league year.
“We do like Dante and we feel that he’s on the verge of having a great season, but we did not pick up the fifth-year option at this time,” Jaguars executive vice president Tom Coughlin said in a team release.
“He is making good progress and we like how he practices and how he plays, as he did in the AFC Championship game, and we want him to have a great season and earn a new long-term contract with us this year.”
Fowler was originally picked third overall in the 2015 NFL Draft, but tore his ACL the first day of rookie mini-camp and missed his entire rookie season. His 2016 season was a slow start and ultimately ended up disappointing and overshadowed by then rookie edge rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who beat out Fowler for the starting job.
Fowler had an up and down season in 2017, though it was better than his 2016 season, he was still more of a niche back up player than someone pushing for the starting job. Fowler ended the regular season with 8 sacks, doubling his 2016 total, and added two more sacks against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.