Dante Fowler Jr. signs 4-year, $23.5 million deal with Jags, sources say

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed rookie Dante Fowler Jr., less than a week after the No. 3 overall pick in last month's NFL draft tore his ACL on the first day of rookie minicamp.

Fowler will receive $23.5 million fully guaranteed over the four-year deal, sources confirmed to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. He will receive a $15.3 million signing bonus.

"Now that this moment is here, I'll always remember this date," Fowler said. "It's like my second birthday."

Less than an hour into the first session of the Jaguars' two-day rookie minicamp last Friday, the former Florida star tore his ACL during 11-on-11 drills while rushing the quarterback. An MRI that night confirmed the torn left ACL, and the team has said he will miss the entire 2015 season.

Before the minicamp, Fowler and the Jaguars signed a waiver that stated that the team would still enter good-faith negotiations in the event that Fowler were injured.

"We are excited to get Dante under contract," Jaguars general manager David Caldwell said. "Negotiations with Dante's representatives were ongoing prior to his injury last weekend and nothing has changed. His attitude and spirit that he has shown recently are part of the reasons we selected him third overall. He understands the process ahead of him and is willing to do the work. He has a bright future ahead of him with the Jaguars and we look forward to him getting back on the field in 2016 and for many years to come."

Fowler was still using crutches to get around the facility Tuesday as he awaits surgery.

"It's like a bittersweet type of thing," he said. "Things happen for a reason. I'm very humbled to know that Mr. (Shad) Khan, and Coach Gus (Bradley) and the whole team just believe in me. It just shows how true they are to me. I saw that when I came to visit. That's why I used to talk about the Jags all the time. I just felt that vibe and felt that family vibe, and they're real.

"Mr. Khan, he's a man of his word. It's just really a loss of words right now. I'm going to work hard and just go out there and show them guys when I come back that this wasn't a bad decision. This was a good decision. This was a great decision that they made."

Fowler already spent some of his big bonus to buy his mother a car for Mother's Day.

"That's something I always wanted to do as a kid," he said. "Just to see the smile on her face and just to see one of the big accomplishments I made in my life. I went from making little letters for her in elementary school and stuff like that to getting her the car that she always wanted. That's all I wanted to do. Whatever else with the money, I don't know."

Fowler had 14 sacks in three years while with the Gators, including 8 last season, and was the best player on a solid defense.

The Jaguars were counting on him to be a centerpiece of their defense and a starter from day one. He was the first defensive player taken in the draft.

Information from ESPN.com Jaguars reporter Mike DiRocco and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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