The Patriots will drop out of the running for defensive tackle Nick Fairley, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (via Twitter). Rapoport adds that it’s an indication Fairley is expected to sign with the Saints.
While there’s no official word yet that Fairley and the Saints have a deal in place, New England and New Orleans were reportedly the only two clubs to formally meet with the 28-year-old. The Jets and Eagles had also been viewed as teams with interest in Fairley, who said earlier this week that he was still talking to the Rams as well.
A free agent a year ago, Fairley signed a one-year pact with the Rams, and was a rotational piece on the team’s talented defensive line in 2015, appearing in less than 40% of the defensive snaps. Although he wasn’t a full-time player and his counting stats were modest (29 tackles and 0.5 sacks), the former first-round pick graded out as a top-25 interior defender, according to Pro Football Focus.
If the Saints do end up officially landing Fairley, the team will have to make at least one cap-clearing move to accommodate the signing. After the terms of the the club’s agreement with James Laurinaitis were confirmed today, the NFLPA now lists New Orleans as having less than $1MM in cap space, and that count doesn’t include the Saints’ deal with linebacker Craig Robertson.
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