The Atlanta Falcons released Dante Fowler just 11 months after he helped the team by taking a pay cut. Read that again. The guy took less money and is now rewarded by getting fired. Players and agents are starting to get some insight into the kind of general manager in Atlanta. What will happen the next time the Falcons ask a player to help the team out and take a cut or renegotiate their deal? Obviously, the response should be a flat no, and that’s if a player even gets as far as signing an agreement with this organization.
There is no arguing that Fowler did not live up to expectations when he signed with Atlanta in 2019. But that is not the point. It’s how players are treated. Terry Fontenot has just started his second year as a general manager. Since he was behind the scenes working for the New Orleans Saints for the last two decades, no one knew what to expect.
]Now every player in the league knows, and all the agents of players coming into the NFL know how willing Fontenot is to part ways with players.
It’s rare in pro sports today to see a player realize they didn’t hold up their end of the deal and to agree to a pay cut. Not only did Fowler decide to take less money, but he also said he did to help the team and show the organization his commitment. At the time Fowler said the following:
"“Showing that I’m willing and that I want to be here for a good amount of time, and I felt like, under the circumstances that we were in, I just felt like I could do my part to help the team get better in any type of way.” -Dante Fowler in 2020 after taking pay cut"
The Falcons repaid that commitment to the team with a humiliating release. While this is being painted as savings, Fowler was only scheduled to count for $4.6 million against the cap next season. Fontenot will be hard-pressed to find a player with Fowler’s potential for that kind of cap charge.
The Falcons defense is not good. Outside of A.J. Terrell and Grady Jarrett, there is not much to work with and a bounce-back season by Fowler could’ve been in play for a relatively cheap cap hit. However, the more significant concern should be the words is out on how players will be treated by Fortenot’s Falcons.