FRISCO, Texas - Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn obviously has an eye for talent. He's often said that his system is adaptable to many different players, but make no mistake, there are certainly players that fit better than others.
And without a doubt, one of those players seems to be Dante Fowler Jr.
The veteran pass-rusher officially signed his one-year deal with the Cowboys on Monday, marking the third time he's reunited with Quinn.
In college, Quinn was the defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, and helped recruit Fowler to campus and coached him for just one season.
Later on, when both were in the NFL, Fowler was a sought-after free agent and signed with the Falcons after an 11-sack season with the Rams in 2018. He signed with Atlanta, which was head coached by Quinn at the time.
And now, as Quinn returns for a second season as the Cowboys' DC, he has helped bring Fowler to Dallas.
Obviously, the Cowboys had their eyes set on re-signing Randy Gregory, who changed his mind and went to Denver in a matter of minutes last week. The Cowboys then switched gears as well, signing both Dorance Armstrong and then Fowler, adding some veteran depth to the defensive end position.
"It feels awesome. It feels amazing," Fowler said on Monday at The Star. "It's an honor and a pleasure to be here in Dallas and to be a Cowboy. What better way to have Dan Quinn as my defensive coordinator – a guy that I've known since high school, and a guy that knows the ins and outs from me as a football player. I know he'll get the best from me. I'm excited to be here."
When asked about his role, Fowler wasn't specific, only mentioning effort and enthusiasm.
"Whatever role I play, I just want to do it 100 percent and do it all – all the way to my ultimate best," he said. "Whatever I can do for this team, that's what I'm going to do. If it's to go sack the quarterback, or make a play for my team, that's what I'm going to do."
Speaking of Fowler's best, it actually the year before he got to Quinn in Atlanta for the second time. Fowler signed a free-agent deal after posing 11.5 sacks for the Rams.
Fowler's connection to Quinn isn't much of a coincidence, considering he's had the choice to join him three times now. But the way he's crossed paths with Randy Gregory is rather unique. They were both considered two of the best pass-rushers in the 2015 NFL Draft. Fowler went No. 3 overall to Jacksonville, while Gregory's off-the-field issues forced him to drop to the second round, where the Cowboys picked him No. 60 overall.
"Randy is a great guy. I met him first at the combine and then when we were ready to get drafted in Chicago," Fowler said. "I was always following his game. I love his game. He's a tall, long guy that finally put it together. He had a great season and he got rewarded for it. I love Randy Gregory. I'm hoping I can come in here and do some great things that he did."
Last year, Fowler missed three games overall and started just six games for the Falcons. He still had 4.5 sacks, and posted 3.0 sacks in 2020, which started out with Quinn before the coach was dismissed early in the regular season.
But Fowler's career keeps getting reconnected with Quinn. And while he's just on a one-year deal this time around, Fowler is ready to prove himself once again.
"Just want to show people, prove to myself that I'm the player I know I am and I know I will be," Fowler said. "I'm a guy that's going to fight for his team, go to war for his team – scratch, claw and do whatever I have to do to win my rep or win the game. I'm just happy to be a Cowboy right now."
History would suggest that Dan Quinn is also rather happy, too.