Dante Fowler’s deal with the Dallas Cowboys offers clues

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Since the Dallas Cowboys came to terms with free agent EDGE, Dante Fowler, there’s been speculation as to what role he’d be playing. With Randy Gregory now enjoying those Rocky Mountain highs (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist), the right side of the line was essentially up for grabs.

The Dallas Cowboys previously re-sign Dorance Armstrong at RDE, but his production and on-going development certainly don’t make him a lock for starting snaps. So when Dallas signed Dante Fowler to his incentive laden deal, many around the Cowboys dubbed him the starter opposite DeMarcus Lawrence.

Dante Fowler’s deal offers clues as to what role he’ll be playing for the Dallas Cowboys in 2022.

Long before the Dallas Cowboys signed Dante Fowler, we dove into his game and broke down how he’d fit on the Dallas Cowboys and what type of production we could expect. To catch up on that unbiased assessment (unbiased because he wasn’t even a rumor at that point), check out the article below:

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Based on contract values, we can determine Dorance Armstrong is the expected starting RDE in 2022. His deal of 2 years/$12 million far outweighs Fowler’s $2.91 million deal. But since Fowler signed an incentive-laden deal, we can surmise the devil is in the details so let’s take a look…

Two big things stick out right away. He has sack-based incentives and he has per game roster bonuses. The last time I remember seeing incentives and weekly roster bonus’ like this was when Dallas signed Greg Hardy.

Looking at the details at Over the Cap, we can see the Dallas Cowboys have committed only $1 million in guarantees. They can cut him today and that’s all they’re on the hook for. So basically, it’s like keeping Fowler on retainer – just in case.

This indicates to me the Dallas Cowboys are still on the hunt. Armstrong is going to be in the rotation for sure, but another top-2 DE is on the wish list. Whether that’s free agency, trade market, or the draft, we can’t be sure, but Dallas is clearly keeping their options open.

Further details peg sacks as a driving incentive (and team wins but I think even a bad Dallas team wins the NFC East this year given the competition around them). This indicates if Fowler does play, it will be as a pass-rusher and not as an primary player.

It makes sense too. I can see Fowler strolling in for obvious passing situations. As we explained in the free agent preview above, Fowler is at his best when offenses are focused on someone else. If Parsons is pass-rushing and DeMarcus is pass-rushing, no one will be paying attention to Fowler. He’ll serve as specialist because that’s what his incentives indicate.

And again, he might now even be on the roster on Day 1. He costs money to keep around each week and Dallas is only on the hook for a cool million. They put him on retainer “just in case”. This is good news to many who cringe at the idea of Fowler/Tank/Armstrong as the primary DEs this coming season. It shows Dallas is still looking to upgrade and staying as flexible as possible to facilitate said upgrade.

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Not sure I’d go buy that Fowler jersey quite yet.