JACKSONVILLE – The Jaguars want Dante Fowler Jr. for the long term, though on Wednesday they opted against picking up his option for 2019.
Because Fowler was a first-round selection in the 2015 NFL Draft – the No. 3 selection overall – the Jaguars had until Wednesday at 4 p.m. to decide whether to pick up a fifth-year option on his contract. The Jaguars would have paid Fowler $14.2 million in 2019 under that option.
"We do like Dante and we feel that he's on the verge of having a great season, but we did not pick up the fifth-year option at this time," Jaguars Executive Vice President of Football Operations Tom Coughlin said in a statement Wednesday. "He is making good progress and we like how he practices and how he plays, as he did in the AFC Championship game, and we want him to have a great season and earn a new long-term contract with us this year."
While the Jaguars opted not to pick up the option, Fowler remains under contract through the 2018 season. The sides can agree to a long-term deal, with Fowler eligible for unrestricted free agency next offseason at the start of the NFL's 2019 league year
All NFL first-round selections sign four-year contracts, with the team having the option to have the player under contract for a fifth year under a salary based on where the player was selected.
Fowler, who played collegiately at the University of Florida, missed his rookie season after sustaining a torn anterior cruciate ligament in rookie minicamp shortly after the '15 draft. He registered four sacks in 2016 and eight last regular season.
He had two sacks in the Jaguars' AFC Championship game loss to the New England Patriots in January.