The Dallas Cowboys are loading up for the 2023 season with trades for proven, high-caliber talent like wide receiver Brandin Cooks and cornerback Stephon Gilmore as well as smaller, short-term depth signings like those of offensive lineman Chuma Edoga and running back Ronald Jones on Tuesday. However, Jerry Jones didn't stop there Tuesday, additionally re-signing defensive end Dante Fowler to a one-year deal. The signing is the latest in the Cowboys' best offseason in a long time.
APPLYING MORE PRESSURE 😮💨 DE @dantefowler has agreed to terms to return to Dallas next season.— Dallas Cowboys (@dallascowboys) March 21, 2023
Learn more → https://t.co/qqsYYJfA6F#DallasCowboys | @blockchain pic.twitter.com/LAosDTdql9
Fowler, who'll turn 29 in August, totaled six sacks in 2022 with the Cowboys, his best single-season total since a career-high 11.5 with the Los Angeles Rams in 2019. That tied him with Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence for the third-most on the team last season behind only First-Team All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons' 13.5 sacks and defensive end Dorance Armstrong's 8.5 sacks. The figure is even more impressive considering Fowler played less than a third of the team's defensive snaps, 27.2% to be exact.
The 2023 campaign isn't the first time Fowler has agreed to team up with current Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. Quinn recruited him to the University of Florida as their defensive coordinator/defensive line coach for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He also helped persuade the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft to join him in the pros with the Atlanta Falcons when Quinn was the team's head coach in 2020. Fowler signed a three-year, $45 million deal with Quinn and the Falcons the first time he hit unrestricted free agency.
"He definitely played a huge factor in it," Fowler said in 2020, per the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, when asked about why he chose the Falcons. "We just built a relationship at that time. He used to always come and see me, talk to me. Everything was genuine. He talked to me about a lot of things as a man. Just over that one-year span of me being there with with him at UF, I went to his house. I met his wife. I had Thanksgiving with them."
Fowler and Quinn made it a point to maintain their relationship when Fowler began his career with the Jacksonville Jaguars and Quinn was in Atlanta, always finding time to talk when facing each other in the preseason.
"I would always get to chat with him and talk to him," Fowler said. "It is just really cool for him to be my coach again."
Quinn showed his appreciation for the connection he and Fowler have developed when they had their first NFL reunion three years ago with the Falcons.
"More often than not, the guys from college need your help more off the field than on the field," Dan Quinn said in 2020, via the AJC. "Through the years, it's been great to stay connected to players that I coached at Florida. That relationship and that bond really grows strong."
The two now enter their fourth season together on the same team, but 2022 and 2023 will be their first consecutive seasons working with each other. Quinn has plenty of resources on his defensive front with Fowler, Parsons, Armstrong, and now second-year defensive end Sam Williams all back with the Cowboys. That pass-rush unit led the entire league in quarterback pressure rate last season, harassing opposing passers on 37% of their dropbacks. Unfortunately for the rest of the league's QBs, Dallas' pass-rush could be just as good or better with the continuity they have working together.