Saints Don’t Expect Nick Fairley Return

The heart condition that will shelve Saints defensive tackle Nick Fairley this year seems increasingly likely to end his career. Saints doctors don’t expect Fairley to return to the field, according to Joel Erickson of the Advocate, and head coach Sean Payton said Wednesday that the defender’s condition will not improve over time. Further, Payton added that he’s not aware of any procedure capable of fixing it.

Nick Fairley (Vertical)

Payton stopped short of declaring that’s Fairley done for good, saying: “I would never sit at this table and use that word never. As we sit here today, though, we’ve prepared ourselves for him not playing this season. … The good side to that is, fortunately, this was discovered not the hard way.”

It’s possible the Saints will attempt to recoup some of the money they awarded Fairley in free agency, when they re-signed him to a four-year, $28MM contract that includes $9MM in guarantees and an $8MM bonus. Speaking Wednesday, general manager Mickey Loomis didn’t rule out trying to recover some of Fairley’s contract.

“I’d rather not answer that, because I don’t know yet,” Loomis said. “I don’t know how it’s going to resolve itself. Those are difficult questions there. … We’re a lot more concerned about Nick himself than we are about that, although that is a concern.”

It could hurt New Orleans’ cause that its concerns over Fairley’s heart cropped up before the team handed him a new deal, and all 32 NFL clubs have been aware of his condition dating back to 2011. That was Fairley’s draft year, when the Lions chose him 13th overall. Fairley has been effective with the Lions, Rams and Saints over his six pro seasons, but it appears we’ve seen the last of the 29-year-old on the gridiron.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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