11:17am: It’s a one-year, prove-it deal for Fairley, who can earn up to $7.5MM in 2015, reports Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). The contract has a base value of $5MM, which isn’t far off from what the veteran defender would have been paid if the Lions had picked up his fifth-year option.
Playing with such a talented group of defensive linemen, Fairley has a nice opportunity to have a big year and earn a more lucrative deal a year from now, if he can stay healthy.
11:09am: One of the league’s best defensive lines will be even scarier entering the 2015 season. According to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (via Twitter), former Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley will join the Rams, having agreed to terms on a new deal with the team. The team revealed the move at Nick Foles‘ introductory press conference today (Twitter link).
Fairley had his 2014 season derailed by injuries, but he was very effective when healthy, and received plenty of interest this week. The 27-year-old paid a visit to the Bengals, and a Wednesday report indicated that about a half-dozen teams were interested in him before free agency even began on Tuesday.
A former 13th overall pick, Fairley had his best season in 2013, when he recorded 35 tackles and six sacks to go along with a pair of forced fumbles. Despite that impressive showing, the Lions elected not to exercise his relatively inexpensive ($5.477MM) fifth-year option for the 2015 season, allowing him to reach free agency. It’ll be interesting to see if Fairley signs for more or less with the Rams than he could have received from the Lions, who have now lost both Fairley and Ndamukong Suh.
As for the Rams, defensive line certainly wasn’t a pressing area of need for a team that has Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Chris Long, and Michael Brockers on its roster, but the team did cut Kendall Langford earlier in the offseason and was looking to add another interior piece. In Fairley, St. Louis lands one of the top defensive tackles on the market, and will move forward with a front four that’s extremely capable of both getting to the quarterback and stuffing the run.