Jacksonville Jaguars decline fifth year option for Dante Fowler Jr.


Still struggling to live up to his draft billing, former 3rd overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. will enter 2018 without the fifth year option and a lot to prove.

The Jacksonville Jaguars had the best defense in the NFL in 2017 and one of the best pass defense in the history of football thanks to a formidable secondary and a monstrous pass rush.

Up front, the Jaguars had arguably the deepest defensive line rotation in the league thanks to bench guys like Abry Jones, Dawuane Smoot, and Dante Fowler Jr.

The last name on that list unfortunately shouldn’t be a depth guy because he was a high first round pick. It’s fair to say more is expected for Fowler has heads into the fourth year in the NFL, one which will also be the last year on his current contract:

Fowler had a tough start to his career, tearing his ACL on his first day of rookie minicamp right after he was drafted. Since then, he’s taken his time getting up to speed and he quietly had a somewhat productive season in 2017, notching 8 sacks.

Despite an improved year, he was still one of the least productive defensive ends by advanced metrics:

By no means does this move signify the end of Fowler’s tenure with the Jaguars after 2018, but it doesn’t bode well. More often than not, teams don’t re-sign their first round picks after declining to pick up their fifth year option.

In terms of who is lined up to get an extension, Fowler is going to lower on the priority list compared to Yannick Ngakoue, Myles Jack, and Jalen Ramsey. All three are going to command monstrous contracts and are options for the franchise tag at worst.

If Fowler does take a big leap in 2018, the Jaguars can always fall back on the franchise tag but it’s a calculated risk. Even if Fowler has a down year, he’ll probably still garner significant interest as a free agent because of his pedigree and middling production.

2018 has become a prove-it year for Fowler if it wasn’t already.