3 Affordable defensive ends Cleveland Browns can target in free agency

Cowboys, Dante Fowler Jr. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images)
Cowboys, Dante Fowler Jr. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /
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Cowboys, Dante Fowler Jr. (Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images) /

1. Dante Fowler, Jr.

Dante Fowler, Jr. gets a bad rap as a draft bust since he never lived up to his status as the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft but he’s not a bad player.

The veteran defensive end missed his entire rookie campaign due to a torn ACL but has put together a decent career since then. In seven seasons, he’s played in 108 games with 40 starts. Primarily serving as a pass-rushing specialist, Fowler has 227 career tackles and 41 sacks.

His best campaign was in 2019 when he had 11.5 sacks for the Los Angeles Rams but he’s fresh off another solid year. Playing in a rotation for the Dallas Cowboys, Fowler appeared in all 17 games and had 27 tackles, six sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Now a free agent, it’s likely he could hit the open market since Dallas will want to see Sam Williams get more reps in year two. That could open the door for Cleveland to land Fowler but as Jacob Roach of Browns Wire says, his addition would mean a lot in the pass-rushing department but very little against the run.

"“Fowler isn’t much of a factor in the run game but he would be a clear upgrade at the number three defensive end on the team. An explosive athlete of the line of scrimmage Fowler got a 77 pass-rushing grade from PFF last year. He finished with 36 total pressures and six sacks in 227 pass-rush snaps.” — Roach, Browns Wire"

His lack of run-stuffing shouldn’t be a major concern. Instead, Cleveland should feel comfortable using Alex Wright as the starter on early downs knowing they can put Fowler in on third downs, and he should be able to deliver.