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Jaguars sign first-round draft pick Dante Fowler Jr.


JACKSONVILLE – Dante Fowler Jr.'s deal is done.

And while getting it done quickly and without incident didn't surprise Fowler, he said to have done so under his current circumstances absolutely was a positive.

Fowler, the No. 3 overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Jaguars on April 30, on Tuesday signed his rookie contract with the organization – a fully guaranteed four-year contract, as is the norm for NFL first-round draft selections.

"It's something I've always worked hard for, and dedicated my whole life to," Fowler said moments after signing the contract at EverBank Field shortly after noon Tuesday. "Now that this moment's here I'll always remember this date and this day. It's like my second birthday."

Fowler, an edge rusher from the University of Florida, sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament last Friday in the Jaguars' 2015 rookie minicamp. The injury occurred an hour into Fowler's first NFL practice. Jaguars Head Coach Gus Bradley said Saturday that Fowler will miss the 2015 season.

Fowler said the injury made the contract signing somewhat "bittersweet."

"Things happen for a reason," he said. "I'm very humbled to know that (Jaguars Owner) Mr. (Shad) Khan and (Jaguars Head) Coach Gus (Bradley) and the whole team still believes in me. It just shows how true they are. I saw that when I came to visit.

"That's why I used to talk about the Jags all the time. I felt that family vibe with the coaches. They're real."

Fowler said the moment he actually signed was "something I always envisioned myself doing."

"Just being able to sit down and have that pen in my hand, that's something I can say I accomplished," he said. "The dreaming part is over now. I'm just ready to get working. That's something I'm starting to learn right now, to never take things for granted."

Drafted NFL rookies sign agreements with teams stating that the teams will negotiate in good faith if the player is injured while participating without a contract in minicamps or offseason programs. Fowler and the Jaguars signed such a deal last week.

"Things work out for good reasons," Fowler said. "This is one of the great things that have happened to me. I'm just ready to rehab this knee, take my time with it and come back stronger."

Fowler said he fulfilled a lifelong dream of buying a car for his mother this past weekend for Mother's Day.

"That's something I always wanted to do as a kid – just to see the smile on her face, and to see one of the big accomplishments I've made in my life," he said. "I went from making little letters for her in elementary school and stuff like that to giving her a car she always wanted. That's all I wanted to do."

Fowler said it was a relief to be at the end of the lengthy pre-draft, draft and signing process that began with pre-draft training and ran through the NFL Scouting Combine, Florida Pro Day and NFL Draft.

"Basically the process is over with," Fowler said. "Now that I've got everything done, I feel like I'm officially a member of the Jacksonville Jaguars club. I'm just ready to go to work in a different way, be there spiritually and show the team my support."

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