The undefeated Rams just got even better, but it came at a steep price.
Less than 30 minutes before the trade deadline, the Rams traded for former first-round pick Dante Fowler, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In return, the Jaguars will get a third-round pick in 2019 and a fifth-round pick in 2020, Schefter reported. The Jaguars confirmed the trade 10 minutes before the deadline.
The move fills a need for the Rams. While their defensive front features two of the best interior linemen in football in Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, they’re lacking exterior pass rushers. Donald and Suh have combined for 13 of the Rams’ 22 sacks. Michael Brockers leads the Rams’ defensive ends with one sack.
That’s where Fowler comes into play. This season, Fowler has generated only two sacks in seven games, but he’s coming off a career-best season in 2017 when he racked up eight sacks.
The Rams, after engineering a plethora of trades before the season, are in win-now mode. It’s a steep price to pay for a player with 14 sacks since 2015 (he missed his entire rookie year with a torn ACL), but if it helps them win a Super Bowl this season, nobody will care. The Rams are already the best team in football at 8-0. If Fowler can finally live up to his potential, he’ll provide the Rams with something they’ve been lacking: a pass-rushing threat coming around the edges.
If you’re keeping track, the Rams have now acquired the following players in the past year:
- Cornerback Aqib Talib
- Cornerback Marcus Peters
- Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh
- Receiver Brandin Cooks
- Pass rusher Dante Fowler
According to CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora, the Rams also took a look at pass rushers like Shane Ray, Bruce Irvin, and Cameron Wake before settling on Fowler.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Packers and Jets were among the teams in the mix to acquire Fowler. It seems like one way or another, the Jaguars were going to give Fowler to someone.
Which makes sense. For the Jaguars, who sit at a disappointing 3-5 a year after they nearly made it to the Super Bowl, Fowler became expendable when Yannick Ngakoue emerged as one of the league’s best young pass rushers. In the offseason, the Jaguars didn’t pick up Fowler’s fifth-year option, which means he’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season. They weren’t going to re-sign him anyway, so getting something in return for him now makes a ton of sense, even if it marginally hurts their chances to make it back to the playoffs right now.
The Jaguars’ defense — with Ngakoue, Calais Campbell, Jalen Ramsey, and A.J. Bouye — is still incredibly talented. They’re not underperforming because they’re lacking good players. If they’re going to turn around their season, they need their players and coaches to just perform better. They can do that without Fowler around.
Finally, let’s check in with the top of the 2015 draft class.
The Rams now have two of those players.
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