Nick Fairley

Extra Points: Boldin, Burfict, Mathieu, Saints

Anquan Boldin may not be done playing in the NFL, as he said today that he hasn’t made a decision on the future of his career, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Boldin signed a one-year deal with the Bills last August, but retired just two weeks later. The 37-year-old expressed some interest in returning during the 2017 season, but the Bills had no intention of releasing him. Buffalo has now done so, as it cut Boldin from the reserve/retired list this week. For what it’s worth, the Patriots and Boldin reportedly had mutual interest last September.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is expected to argue that his four-game performance-enhancing drug suspension should be overturned given that he was using prescription medications to recover from injury after he’d already been ruled out for the season, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. If Burfict’s ban is upheld, the remaining $11.3MM guarantee on his contract will void, meaning Cincinnati could potentially move on without any financial consequences. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes, Burfict is hoping an arcane section of the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement will save him, but the league is unlikely to overturn his suspension.
  • Former All Pro defensive back Tyrann Mathieu had an offer to return to the Cardinals at an $8MM salary, tweets Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic. The 25-year-old Mathieu declined the overture, and instead signed with the Texans for one year and $7MM. the Mathieu was a Pro Bowler and one of the NFL’s best defensive backs as recently as 2015, but he’s struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness over the past two seasons. Last year, Mathieu managed to start all 16 games, but only graded as the league’s No. 61 cornerback among 121 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Although the Saints received a salary cap credit as a result of their Nick Fairley grievance, the grievance itself has not been settled, per Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune (Twitter link). That $3MM credit was only related to Fairley’s signing bonus, so the Saints are presumably trying to recoup a portion of Fairley’s base salary after he was forced to sit out the 2017 campaign with a heart condition. For what it’s worth, Fairley hopes to play during the upcoming season, but it’s difficult to imagine any team medically clearing him.
  • The Steelers curiously signed restricted free agent punter Jordan Berry to a one-year extension with a similar salary to the RFA tender, and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com has explained the club’s rationale. Berry, a native Australian, would have been considered unemployed if he returned to his home country without an RFA tender in place, meaning his work authorization paperwork could have taken extra time. Given that he’s getting married this year, Berry didn’t want to deal with any confusion, so Pittsburgh obliged him by giving him a one-year deal, the value of which has sent been altered to match the original round tender figure of $1.907MM.

Saints Receive Cap Credit From Nick Fairley Grievance

Nick Fairley and the Saints each filed grievances with the NFL over the former New Orleans defensive tackle’s contract, and one of the details from the result of those proceedings with the league has emerged.

The Saints will see a $3MM bump in cap space because of this, Mike Triplett of ESPN.com reports. This will come in the form of a cap credit, with bonus money from Fairley’s contract being returned to the team, per Triplett.

It’s not certain if this grievance has been fully resolved, or how money from Fairley’s $14MM guarantee will be distributed. The Saints signed Fairley to a four-year, $28MM contract last March, but after a quality season in 2016, Fairley was diagnosed with a heart condition. He has not played since and may well have played his last down as an NFL player.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Notes: Fairley, Kelemete, Kuhn, Line

After missing the entire 2017 season as a result of a heart ailment, free agent defensive tackle Nick Fairley wants to play during the upcoming campaign, tweets Nick Underhill of the Advocate. The Saints, who inked Fairley to a four-year deal last offseason but released him last month, are not expected to be involved in a potential Fairley pursuit, per Underhill. Fairley was an excellent interior defender at full strength, but it’s unclear if any NFL club would be willing to bet on his health. Indeed, Fairley hasn’t been medically cleared to play, as Underhill tweets, so a return to the league seems unlikely.

Here’s more from New Orleans:

  • Free agent offensive lineman Senio Kelemete is experiencing a “healthy market,” according to Josh Katzenstein of the Advocate, and while the Saints will likely be interested in retaining him, any reunion will be based on cost. New Orleans isn’t likely to offer Kelemete a chance to start, as the club is set with Terron Armstead, Andrus Peat, Max Unger, Larry Warford, and Ryan Ramczyk from left to right. Kelemete’s versatility and ability to play nearly every position on the line is his key asset, but he’d surely prefer a starting job to a reserve role.
  • The Saints and free agent fullback John Kuhn have mutual interest in a return, sources tell Herbie Teope of NOLA.com. Kuhn, who was sidelined for the majority of the 2017 campaign after suffering a biceps injury, is currently considering whether he’ll continue his playing career or enter the coaching ranks, per Teope. Fellow Saints fullback Zach Line, who appeared in 12 games for New Orleans following Kuhn’s injury, is drawing interest around the league, reports Katzenstein, but the Saints have interest in retaining him, as well.
  • Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland orchestrated arguably the NFL’s best draft class last spring, and he’d like to become a primary decision-maker again in the future, as Underhill writes. “Absolutely, why wouldn’t it be?” Ireland said when asked if getting a second GM job is his goal. “I’m not in a hurry. I told myself when I got to New Orleans I was going to help this team build. I’d really have to think twice about leaving the New Orleans Saints before we won a Super Bowl.” Ireland previously served as the Dolphins’ general manager from 2008-13, and the club posted a 46-50 record under his lead.
  • Although he hasn’t expressed a willingness to accept a full-time position, the Saints would like to have special teams consultant Mike Westhoff return next season, according to Katzenstein. Westhoff is currently recovering a surgical operation which could limit his availability, but New Orleans is willing to allow the 70-year-old a varied schedule. He wouldn’t be accepting the lead special teams coach role, as the Saints intend to retain Bradford Banta (primary ST coach) and Kevin O’Dea (assistant).

Saints Cut DT Nick Fairley

Nick Fairley‘s tenure with the Saints has come to an end. ESPN’s Field Yates reports (via Twitter) that the team has cut the defensive tackle with a non-football illness designation.

Nick FairleyFairley signed a four-year, $28MM ($14MM guaranteed) deal with the Saints this past offseason. However, he was shelved prior to the season after a team doctor discovered a heart condition. After receiving multiple opinions, the organization ultimately placed the defensive lineman on the non-football illness list.

Yates tweets that Fairley was due a $750,000 roster bonus this week, and his $4.25MM salary also would have become fully-guaranteed at this time. Nick Underhill of The Advocate tweets that the grievance over that money is still ongoing. Both sides had previously filed a grievance with the NFL’s Management Council over how much guaranteed money would ultimately be owed to the 30-year-old.

The 2011 first-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Lions before bouncing between the Rams and Saints. In 2016, Fairley finished with 43 tackles and a career-high 6.5 sacks for New Orleans.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints Notes: Brees, Mayfield, Fairley

Drew Brees has already claimed that he has no intention of testing the free agent market, and Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said today that doesn’t anticipate any “big issues” in negotiating a new deal for the the veteran quarterback, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. However, Loomis did admit the Saints and Brees have not yet entered into talks regarding a fresh contract. New Orleans used a void provision when it re-signed Brees prior to the 2016 campaign, so if the club fails to ink another deal with its 39-year-old signal-caller this offseason, it will absorb an $18MM dead money charge in 2018.

Here’s more from New Orelans:

  • Speaking of quarterbacks, Saints head coach Sean Payton is “squarely in the camp” of Oklahoma passer Baker Mayfield defenders, reports Charles Robinson of Yahoo! Sports (Twitter links). Aside from boasting a similar stature to Brees, Mayfield reportedly has a “wicked competitive streak” that will fit in with the Saints’ culture. Per Robinson, former New Orleans quarterback Garrett Grayson “got steamrolled mentally” while trying to keep up with Brees’ competitiveness, but Mayfield may not have that issue. Given Brees’ age, the Saints shouldn’t be ruled out as a potential contender for a first-round quarterback in the 2018 draft.
  • The Saints have filed a grievance in an attempt to recoup some of the money paid to defensive tackle Nick Fairley, who was forced to sit out the 2017 season due to a heart condition, as Joel Erickson of the Advocate writes. This was the expected outcome, as New Orleans began exploring ways to recover portions of Fairley’s salary last summer. Coming off a career year in 2016, Fairley signed a four-year, $28MM contract with the Saints that contained $9MM in full guarantees. He’s already been paid a $8MM signing bonus and a $1MM base salary for 2017, and he’s due a $4.25MM base salary in 2018 that is guaranteed for injury only.
  • Loomis & Co. have been busy with offseason work since the Saints’ postseason run ended, and the club made two notable futures signings over the past week, agreeing to terms with wide receiver Josh Huff and linebacker Jayrone Elliott.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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.

Saints May Try To Recoup Portion Of Nick Fairley’s Contract

The Saints have begun to examine ways to recoup a portion of the money already paid to defensive tackle Nick Fairley after placing him on the non-football injury list earlier today, according to Josh Katzenstein of NOLA.com. Doctors ruled a heart condition won’t allow Fairley to play in 2017.Nick Fairley

The NFI allows a club to withhold a player’s salary, and though most teams opt not to use such a punishment, clubs certainly hold that right. In many cases, such as the 2016 standoff between Desmond Bryant and the Browns, the two sides will negotiate a lower salary in lieu of a complete recoup.

While the Saints could try to work out a similar arrangement with Fairley, the more pressing matter between the two parties is Fairley’s signing bonus. Fairley received an $8MM bonus as part of a $9MM overall guarantee, and that bonus has likely already been paid. It’s unclear if New Orleans will be able to go after some or all of that money, but Katzenstein reports it’s “premature to speculate” about exactly what course of action the Saints may take.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Saints’ Nick Fairley Won’t Play In 2017

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. Nick Fairley (Vertical)

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.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC Notes: Fairley, Packers, Lane, Lions

Nick Fairley‘s heart issue has stalled his career to the point the Saints are preparing for this season as if the recently re-signed defensive tackle won’t play, Larry Holder of NOLA.com reports. Last we heard, the 29-year-old defender was getting a third opinion on the condition. Fairley signed a four-year, $28MM deal to stay in New Orleans in March. But if he’s not going to play this season, Holder notes the Saints are going to be at a loss. They used 2016 fourth-rounder David Onyemata alongside Sheldon Rankins on the first-string defense during minicamp, but Holder notes the starting nose tackle will probably be Tyeler Davison, a 2015 fifth-rounder who started 15 games last season. Davison is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery.

Here’s the latest from around the NFC.

  • Davante Adams has shot to the top of the Packers‘ 2018 UFA contingent after a breakout 2016 season, one that also includes Morgan Burnett, center Corey Linsley and guard Lane Taylor, Rob Reischel writes for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. This could mean Randall Cobb faces a pivotal season, with Reischel noting the Packers could elect to prioritize an Adams deal and move on from Cobb despite his young age. The slot target will only be 27 this season, but Cobb recorded a modest (for him) 60-catch, 610-yard season. He’s signed through 2018 and has cap numbers of $12.6MM and $12.7MM this season and next, respectively.
  • The Seahawks have a pair of cornerbacks that have suffered severe injuries in recent years, but while DeShawn Shead rehabs, Jeremy Lane looks like the starter opposite Richard Sherman. Pete Carroll said Shead is recovering well from the ACL and meniscus tears sustained in January, but with the re-signed player unlikely to be ready for Week 1, the team may be turning to Lane. “He’s physically as fit as he’s been in a long time,” Carroll said, via Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times. “Remember, he had a really difficult offseason a couple years back (following knee and arm injuries in Super Bowl XLIX) and it’s taken him almost a couple years to overcome all of that, and he’s back to full form.” The Seahawks drafted Shaquil Griffin in the third round and moved rookie sixth-rounder Mike Tyson from safety to corner, but those first-year talents look to enter camp as depth pieces behind Lane.
  • Once Taylor Decker suffered a shoulder injury that will keep him out up to six months, the Lions gave first-team left tackle reps to Joe Dahl. The second-year player worked as a guard in six games last season. But after the additions of Greg Robinson and Cyrus Kouandjio, Dahl seems on his way back to guard, Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press notes. Neither Robinson nor Kouandjio participated in Detroit’s minicamp, but Jim Caldwell confirmed they will compete for the now-vacant left tackle job come training camp. A fifth-round pick last year, Dahl would then be in line to compete for a guard spot with Graham Glasgow and Laken Tomlinson opposite T.J. Lang.

NFC Notes: Chancellor, Fairley, Packers

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told reporters today that he’s focused on finalizing a long-term extension with safety Kam Chancellor.

“We would very much like to work something out,” he said (via ESPN.com’s Sheil Kapadia). “We’re working at it. And that’s really all we’ll say. But we are working at it with every intention of taking care of business. It takes awhile. Things take awhile. His frame of mind and our frame of mind are in a really good place. And we’re going to work hard to get something done. We’ll see if we can.”

The four-time Pro Bowler is entering the final year of his contract. The defensive back held out for two games during the 2015 season before signing a new four-year, $28MM deal with the Seahawks. In late May, our own Connor Byrne discussed Chancellor’s extension candidacy.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Saints defensive lineman Nick Fairley is still waiting for results from his third medical opinion regarding a heart condition. Today, coach Sean Payton acknowledged that the team hasn’t received any updates on his availability. However, Payton did say that the organization would consider all of the opinions as they determine what to do with the veteran. “We will weigh in on all of those things,” he said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “We will meet with him and his agent and kind of weigh in on the three different opinions. Like I said, I anticipate that being sooner than later.”
  • Will the Packers keep seven receivers on their roster for a second-straight season? “I’d like to think we’ve got more than seven guys there who can play,” receivers coach Luke Getsy said today (via ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky on Twitter). Behind starters Jordy NelsonDavante Adams, and Randall Cobb, the Packers are rostering wideouts Jeff JanisDeAngelo YanceyGeronimo AllisonTrevor DavisMalachi Dupre, and Max McCaffrey.
  • Last week, the Packers waived cornerback David Rivers with an injury designation. Today, ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reported (via Twitter) that the player reached an injury settlement with the organization, thus removing himself from the team’s injured reserve.