What is the biggest roster decision facing the Jacksonville Jaguars this year? Well, if you’re ESPN’s Field Yates you are 1) handsome and 2) thinking it’s Dante Fowler’s future with the team in 2019 and beyond.
Here’s what Yates thinks about the Jaguars and how the team should handle the Fowler decision:
A potential deal for Fowler. When the Jaguars declined the 2019 fifth-year option on defensive end Dante Fowler Jr., the team announced it would like for him to “have a great season and earn a new long-term contract with us this year.” Pretty straightforward. So, the task at hand is to evaluate how Fowler performs in 2018 and then debate the merits and financials of a new deal in 2019 and beyond, keeping in mind that Jacksonville already has cap commitments exceeding $215 million for the 2019 league year. The rise on the field will correlate with difficult decisions pertaining to the cap.
The Jaguars 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.
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 8.0 sacks, doubling his 2016 total, and added two more sacks against the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship game.