The Rams, unbeaten and eager to make a move that would provide them with an edge for a Super Bowl run, addressed their most pressing need Tuesday before the NFL’s 1 p.m. PDT trade deadline.
They acquired edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
In a corresponding move, the Rams waived offensive lineman Jamon Brown.
Fowler is scheduled to join the Rams on Wednesday and could play Sunday against the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints in New Orleans.
The Rams have been the story of the NFL, with a high-scoring offense that features two most-valuable-player candidates — quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley — a defense that includes star tackle Aaron Donald and special teams that have made game-turning plays.
But bolstering the pass rush from the outside linebacker position in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 scheme has been a priority since training camp.
The Rams have 22 sacks, 10 by Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year. Outside linebacker Samson Ebukam has two sacks and outside linebacker Matt Longacre doesn’t have any.
Coach Sean McVay said Monday that the Rams were actively seeking pass-rushing help.
Whether Fowler can provide it remains to be seen.
Fowler, 24, was the third overall pick in the 2015 draft but was sidelined his first season because of a knee injury. He had four sacks in 2016, and a career-best eight in 2017, with two more in the AFC title game against the New England Patriots.
But the Jaguars declined to exercise their fifth-year option. Fowler has two sacks this season, the final one of his rookie contract.
In the trade with the Jaguars, the Rams gave up a 2019 third-round draft pick and 2020 fifth-round pick to add Fowler to a front that includes Donald, Ndamukong Suh and Michael Brockers.
The Rams in February are expected to receive compensatory draft picks for the free-agent departures of former cornerback Trumaine Johnson and former receiver Sammy Watkins. If the Rams receive a third-round compensation pick, that will go to the Jaguars in lieu of the Rams’ original third-round pick. If the Rams receive multiple third-round compensatory picks, the Jaguars will receive the pick closest to the beginning of the round.
Fowler comes to the Rams with a history of incidents.
In 2017, he was arrested for hitting a 55-year-old man in St. Petersburg, Fla. Fowler pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges and was sentenced to a year of probation and 75 hours of community service. The man is suing Fowler in civil court.
The NFL suspended Fowler for this season’s opener.
Fowler also was suspended by the team for a week during training camp after he fought with defensive lineman Yannick Ngakoue.
According to reports, Fowler also was arrested in Florida in 2016 and charged with misdemeanor assault against a police officer/EMT and resisting arrest without violence. The charges were dropped nine months later after Fowler completed a pretrial intervention program.
Fowler said in September that he had matured and that he was “a teddy bear off the field but a monster on the field,” and that he had put his problems behind.
Brown, the Rams’ third-round draft pick in 2015, started every game at right guard in 2017.
But he was suspended for the first two games this season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy, and lost his starting job to Austin Blythe, who has performed well.
Brown played right guard in Week 6 at Denver after left guard Rodger Saffold left the game because of a knee injury and Blythe switched to the left side. Brown played 10 snaps in a Week 7 victory at San Francisco but played only three special-teams snaps in Sunday’s 29-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Brown’s departure leaves the Rams with seven offensive linemen: center John Sullivan, guards Blythe and Saffold, tackles Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein, and backups Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen.