FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have released outside linebacker Dante Fowler after he failed to provide the expected boost to the team's long-suffering pass rush.

Fowler led the Falcons with 4 1/2 sacks in 2021, giving him only 7 1/2 sacks in his two seasons before Wednesday's release announced by the team.

The Falcons finished last in the NFL with only 18 sacks, leaving edge rusher an area expected to be addressed in the NFL draft or free agency. No other NFL team had fewer than 29 sacks.

Following a 2020 season shortened by injuries, Fowler reworked his contract, accepting a pay cut on a new deal which included incentives. He failed to reach the five sacks needed to trigger escalating bonuses.

Fowler, 27, began his career with Jacksonville in 2016. He set a career high with 11 1/2 sacks with the Rams in 2019 before signing with Atlanta.


More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://apnews.com/hub/pro-32 and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL