The best and worst free agents signed by Atlanta since 2018

Former general manager Thomas Dimitroff and former head coach Dan Quinn look on before a game
Former general manager Thomas Dimitroff and former head coach Dan Quinn look on before a game / Mark Brown/GettyImages
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The Worst Free Agent Signing: Dante Fowler Jr.

Dante Fowler Jr.
Dante Fowler Jr. running out of the tunnel before a game / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages

In March 2020 as free agency kicked off the new league year, the Atlanta Falcons signed outside linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. to a three-year, $45 million contract.

Fowler Jr. had come off of an impressive season in Los Angeles with the Rams, and the Falcons were desperate for any sort of pass rush as Grady Jarrett was a one-man wrecking crew and often double-teamed by opposing offensive lines.

However, the front office failed to take into account that Fowler Jr.'s success may have been because of the attention Aaron Donald was receiving.

This move by Dimitroff and Quinn was one of several last-ditch efforts to try to save their jobs. The Falcons had no choice but to succeed in 2020 as it was the previous regime's last chance. Fowler showed little flashes while he was in Atlanta but was inconsistent for the most part.

While with the Rams in 2019, Fowler Jr. totaled 11.5 sacks which is his best-ever season in that category. It makes sense as to why the Falcons chose to sign him, but not at the price they paid.

Not only did the signing prove to be a massive overpay, but it was a poor return on investment. In 28 games for the Falcons, Fowler Jr. mustered only 7.5 sacks. That is simply not good enough to justify $15 million per year.

This is not a knock on Dante Fowler, either. Despite his shortcomings in Atlanta, this fell on the front office, as who in their right minds would not accept that kind of deal?

In February of 2022, Fowler Jr. was released by the Falcons, one year before his contract was up.

Honorable mention: guard James Carpenter. Carpenter signed with the Falcons in 2019 on a four-year, $21 million deal.

Carpenter was 29 at the time, and never really lived up to expectations and missed games during the 2019 and 2020 seasons before being released in 2021.