Nick Fairley‘s season has ended before it could even start. The Saints announced that the defensive tackle has been placed on the non-football injury list for the season due to his heart condition. He has been ruled out for 2017 and, unfortunately, he might not be able to play football again, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (on Twitter) hears.
Fairley, 29, consulted with at least three doctors before reaching the conclusion that he could not play this year. He signed a four-year, $28MM deal to stay in New Orleans in March, but the Saints will now have to figure out a different plan at nose tackle. The team reportedly plans to use Tyeler Davison, a 2015 fifth-rounder, in the middle, though he is currently recovering from offseason shoulder surgery. Last year’s fourth-round pick David Onyemata could be called upon if Davison suffers a setback.
Beyond Davison and Onyemata, it stands to reason that the Saints could explore external options. PFR’s Dallas Robinson recently ran down some of the best available interior defensive linemen, but not all of those names are fits for the Saints’ 4-3 scheme.
Fairley started 16 games and posted 6.5 sacks during his first season with the Saints, grading out as the league’s 34th best interior defender among 127 qualifiers, according to Pro Football Focus. Per the terms of his deal, Fairley has already cashed in on $9MM in guarantees, including an $8MM signing bonus.
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