Defensive end Dante Fowler was activated Friday by the Atlanta Falcons after spending a week on the COVID-19 list. That's a beginning of a 2021 climb for him. Meanwhile, another Falcons' D-lineman, Deadrin Senat, may be at the end.
Senat, who appeared in just five games last year, wasn't able to get healthy this summer and on Sunday the 2018 third-round pick, 27, was waived/injured. Assuming he passes through waivers his rights stay with Atlanta. But he's on the final year of his rookie contract.
Meanwhile, the late start to training camp isn't ideal for Fowler, who's heading into a crucial season on the contract front. The Falcons brought in Fowler as a free agent in 2020 on a three-year, $45-million deal with hopes of addressing the team's lack of quarterback pressure.
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So far, that hasn't panned out. The 27-year-old Florida product managed just three sacks and 23 tackles last season in Atlanta. Fowler was such a disappointment that the final year of his contract was voided, and he agreed to a pay cut this year to save the Falcons roughly $6 million.
But Fowler does have a history of production. The former third-overall pick in 2016 racked up 11.5 sacks with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 and eight in 2017 with the Jacksonville Jaguars, his original team. Anything close to those numbers would be welcome sight in Atlanta.
The Falcons can cut bait with Fowler after this season, which could be a positive for both parties. His original contract will only count $4.6 million in dead cap space in 2022, according to Spotrac. He's scheduled to count $10.6 million against the cap this season.
Should Fowler resort to his form of just two years ago, another big-money deal could be in the offing either in Atlanta or elsewhere. Getting back on the field and up to speed is the first step.
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