It was not just offensive players who were on the move on trade deadline day in the National Football League, there were moves occurring on the other side of the locker room, with the LA Rams and Jacksonville making a big splash. The player in question is the highly controversial Dante Fowler, who swaps East coast for West. We know the player in question, who he has left and who he has joined, but who were the winners in this deal?
The answer to this question is everybody AND nobody. All parties will believe that they have come away from this deal better off, but it could be argued that all three parties have walked away worse off than before.
First off are the selling team, the Jacksonville Jaguars. They probably benefited the most from getting rid of Dante Fowler. He was their number one pick in the 2015 draft, third pick overall behind quarterbacks Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
The defensive end suffered the worst possible start in Jacksonville, tearing his ACL in pre-season. Since his long-awaited comeback Fowler has had a mixed time of things. On the field he has been a solid option, coming up with some big plays over the past two seasons.
The problem with Fowler is that it isn’t his on-field antics that are being called into question, it is his misdemeanours off the gridiron that have caused problems. He has been arrested for assault, both against a civilian and a police officer. He has been filmed bizarrely refereeing a fight between his girlfriend and the mother of his child, while closer to the field of play, he was suspended for fighting in practice with team mate Yannick Ngakoue. While Fowler Jr is an excellent player, there are not a lack of steady defensive ends in the NFL, and Jacksonville will be happy to have such a troublesome influence off their books.
The Jags also received some excellent draft picks for offloading their 2015 first rounder. In exchange for letting their defensive end move to the Rams, Jacksonville have received a 2019 third rounder and a 2020 fifth rounder.
Now to the LA Rams; how did they fair in this deal? The bottom line is they didn’t need Dante Fowler. They have a stacked defence with the likes of Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh, though it certainly won’t hurt their case to have a quality player like Fowler in the rotation.
The problem for LA is that they are putting all their eggs in the one basket this season. Fowler is good, but they did not need him, and have given away valuable draft picks for the next two seasons to make this happen. They appear to be making this an all or bust season in their challenge to win the Super Bowl, and it is easy to see this plan coming to fruition with Todd Gurley and co playing so well in offense. The problem is that they are very much playing the short-term game – a failure this year could see them empty handed for years to come.
The final piece of this trade deadline puzzle is the player himself, Dante Fowler. He has arguably benefited the most out of this scenario. After his nasty injury in his rookie year he has failed to really hit the top tier, his off-field shenanigans overshadowing any on-field success. A change of scenery may well be the catalyst he needs to grow up and focus on football. That being said, the bright lights of LA may well have the opposite effect on Fowler. Only time will tell…
The other set back is that he isn’t a guaranteed starter. This may be a huge point of frustration to Fowler, who isn’t used to starting on the side line. However, he has some incredibly talented and experienced team mates to compete with. If he sticks in, practices hard and focuses then he will see many snaps and may well earn himself a chance to play a key role in the Rams Super Bowl run.
All in all the Dante Fowler trade truly is a mixed bag. All three parties involved will feel like they have benefited in some way or another, while the cynics and critics can quite rightly bash the move. Whether the trade pays off for anyone and everyone is yet to be determined – the only thing we know is that this is a big move that has potential to shake up the league!