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LA Rams re-sign pass rusher Dante Fowler before free agency

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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Linebacker Dante Fowler has re-signed with the Los Angeles Rams, passing up a shot at unrestricted free agency to stay with the NFC champions.

The Rams announced a deal Sunday night to keep Fowler, but didn’t disclose the terms.

The Rams acquired Fowler in a trade with Jacksonville on Oct. 30, and the edge rusher played a significant role in Los Angeles’ run to the Super Bowl. The 2015 No. 3 overall pick had two sacks in the regular season and 1 ½ more in the playoffs while creating consistent pressure on quarterbacks.

Fowler would have been one of the top pass rushers on the market, but he clearly enjoyed his experience in Wade Phillips’ defense after an up-and-down career with the Jaguars.

Fowler, a St. Petersburg native and University of Florida star, had spent his entire life in Florida before the Rams traded a third-round draft pick this year and a fifth-round pick in 2020 to acquire him. Fowler immediately took to his new team, embracing a pass-rushing role in Phillips’ 3-4 defense and fitting in quickly with his new teammates.

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Rather than chasing free-agent riches, Fowler decided to extend his West Coast stay for at least another season — and he may have decided several weeks ago.

“We’ll be ready next year,” Fowler said immediately after the Rams’ 13-3 loss to New England in the Super Bowl last month.

After going 13-3 and reaching their first Super Bowl in 17 years, the Rams have already addressed two of their biggest offseason concerns before free agency opens.

Los Angeles signed six-time Pro Bowl safety Eric Weddle on Friday, likely replacing Lamarcus Joyner with one of the top available talents. Weddle is returning to his native Southern California to join Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters and John Johnson in the Rams’ secondary.

Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerback Sam Shields also are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents. The Rams haven’t ruled out bringing back both veterans, and Suh took a likely discount a year ago for the chance to earn his first career playoff victories by signing with Los Angeles.

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