Recently the official numbers for 2019 5th year options were set. The Jaguars have had since January 1, 2018 to pick up Dante Fowler's fifth year option (for the 2019 season) but didn't know exactly how much he would cost until this week. His price tag for the 2019 season will be a staggering $14.2 million.
Fowler missed his first season in the NFL thanks to an untimely ACL tear in his first rookie mini camp practice as a member of the Jaguars. Fowler returned from injury in 2016 and was highly underwhelming. Over his first two calendar years in Jacksonville Fowler made more headlines for mediocre play and poor off-field conduct than he did for anything positive on the field. Even heading into the 2017 season there were questions about his maturity, especially after a July arrest.
But Fowler had a breakout year in 2017. He didn't get as many snaps as Calais Campbell or Yannick Ngakoue at defensive end, but he had a big impact for the Jaguars last season. He recorded 10 sacks (including the playoffs), two forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, eighteen tackles, and a defensive touchdown. Quite the performance for a guy who many labeled a bust prior to his breakout 2017 performance.
Now that his 2019 fifth year option cap number is set at $14.2 million the Jaguars have to decide if they're willing to pick up that cap hit when they have several other rising stars like Jalen Ramsey, Yannick Ngakoue, and Myles Jack who will be needing new contracts soon.
The fact that the Jaguars can cut Fowler before his 2019 option kicks in (as long as he can pass a physical) makes the prospect of picking up the fifth year option a little bit less daunting. And if he develops into an even better pass rusher and run defender then he'll be well worth the $14.2 million and could make even more on the open market.
On the other hand if Fowler's play doesn't improve and he sustains an injury in 2018 then the Jaguars could be on the hook in 2019 for $14.2 million for a player that's just another guy.
I personally think Fowler is, and will continue to develop into an above average pass rusher. Still, with Calais Campbell still in the fold and Yannick Ngakoue developing into a star pass rusher the Jaguars will have to crunch the numbers and take a calculated risk one way or the other. At just 23 years old Fowler likely hasn't come close to reaching his full potential. He has the athletic ability and physicality to dominate certain matchups.
Do you want the Jaguars to pick up his fifth year option? Or let him play out the final year of his rookie deal?
Let us know in the comments below!
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