Rams GM Les Snead found one last win NOW move to pull this season. After their well-documented off-season, Snead has taken another page from Eagles GM Howie Roseman and found a big piece at the deadline to help fill a void. According to Adam Schefter and Ian Rappaport, the Rams sent a 3rd and a 5th round pick to the Jaguars for former 3rd overall pick Dante Fowler Jr. Fowler was an expendable part of the Jags’ vaunted defense, and they weren’t going to pay him next year, as they are about $10 million over the tax already.
For the Rams, this is a huge boon. Yes, Dante Fowler can politely be labeled as a bust. He was taken 3rd overall in the 2016 draft and missed his entire rookie year due to an ACL tear. The Jags went all in on defense and Fowler got lost in the shuffle. In his two seasons since, he’s compiled 14 sacks, 58 tackles, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries, and a defensive touchdown. Dante Fowler should provide an instant jolt to a Rams pass rush that’s been in search of help on the outside.
Adding Fowler turns the King Ghidorah of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers, into a four-headed hydra. The Rams have relied on a cast of characters including Cory Littleton, John Franklin-Myers, and Samson Ebukam to supply outside help. Now they have a full-time edge rusher which allows Brockers to get a break, and for the linebacker group to solidify a bit. Littleton can continue to make plays inside along with Mark Barron and the rest of the group can develop without being asked to generate the majority of the pass rush.
Fowler also shores up a run defense that is ranked 24th in the league and considering how brutal the upcoming schedule is, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Furthermore, he’s on a one year deal so if Dante Fowler doesn’t work out they can move on from him. Some will point to his off-field issues as a risk but again, given the fact he’s a rental and needs to play for his next contract, that likely shouldn’t be an issue.
All season, the Rams have needed help getting to the quarterback. Suh and Donald have been making plays but they needed more help considering the double teams they routinely face. This opens things up for Wade Phillips as he now has an experienced edge rusher at the top of his rotation, and that should terrify any offense in their path. If Fowler works out, they can utilize the 6 picks they still have in next year’s draft and/or the estimated $30 million in cap space elsewhere.
The Rams’ mission this year is to take advantage of Jared Goff‘s rookie contract. They’ve built an offense around him and now they have a relatively complete defense to go with it. Yes, they still need help in the secondary but that should at least be tempered by the fact that they now have another weapon upfront to get to the quarterback.
Aside from the picks, this trade cost the Rams veteran guard Jamon Brown who was cut after the Rams couldn’t find a trade partner. Brown was suspended to start the season due to a substance violation. In his stead, rookie Austin Blythe has become a reliable (and cheaper) starter. Still, it makes depth an issue upfront but Brown was likely to be a cap casualty at some point anyway.
Dante Fowler Jr. has the potential to rewrite his career narrative like Suh has. If he can be a key cog on a championship team, he can probably get a long-term deal elsewhere. Or, he could become a replacement if Suh leaves LA, if another team moves him TO A BIGGER HOUSE (Simpsons reference). The Rams are truly all in this season and now they’ve shrunk one of their Achilles heels.