Pass-rusher Dante Fowler has big plans after signing a three-year, $48 million deal with the Atlanta Falcons.
"In order to be elite, you have to put up double digits (in sacks) every year," Fowler told reporters during a conference call Thursday. "That's my job. The goal is to beat [Michael] Strahan's record."
Fowler added: "My mentality is to be one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL, one of the best linebackers. Last year was my first year. I’m just scratching the surface, to be honest. I'm coming with a different mentality. I'm out here to prove something, and I know the team is trying to prove something, too."
Fowler recorded 11.5 sacks, six passes defended, two forced fumbles and 58 tackles (40 solo)—all of which were career-best marks—across 16 regular-season games (14 starts) for the Rams in 2019.
The Jacksonville Jaguars originally selected Fowler with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2015 draft. The Florida product played for the Jags until they traded him to L.A. in October 2018. Fowler had 14 sacks through 39 games, which included only one start, in Jacksonville compared to 13.5 sacks as a Ram across 24 games (20 starts).
Fowler's former Rams teammate Aaron Donald, a two-time AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year, notched 20.5 sacks in 2018.
Others to come close to Strahan's record within the last decade are former Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jared Allen (22.0 in 2011), Indianapolis Colts linebacker Justin Houston (22.0 in 2014 with Kansas City) and Houston Texans three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt (20.5 in 2012 and 2014).