To get ready for free agency, we're going to take a look at each of the Detroit Lions' 2015 free agents. Next up is defensive tackle Nick Fairley.
8 games (8 starts) | 14 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 FF
How he joined the Lions
Drafted in the first round in 2011.
Case for re-signing him
Before he got injured last season, Fairley gave the Lions a glimpse of just how good he can be. Using motivation from his preseason benching and not having his option picked up, Fairley got his weight under control and really took his game to another level. Defensive coordinator Teryl Austin believes that Fairley has "turned a corner," and with Ndamukong Suh potentially on his way out, the Lions could be in a situation where they can't afford to lose Fairley as well.
Case against re-signing him
Even if Suh does depart, do the Lions really want to take a chance on outspending other teams for Fairley? Perhaps he has in fact turned a corner for good and will continue to be this motivated in the future, but what if he reverts back to his old ways? What's more, what if Fairley continues to struggle with injuries going forward? The last thing the Lions need is to spend a bunch of money on a potentially unmotivated player who is always injured. Overall, there's just a lot of risk that comes along with Fairley.
The Lions could have avoided being in this situation by simply picking up Fairley's $5.5 million option, but I suppose that's a moot point now. For me, if the Lions are able to re-sign Suh, then I just don't see the value in re-signing Fairley unless he comes at a reasonable price or is willing to sign an incentive-laden deal. I just think the risk of the deal not working out is too high, and with Suh back, there would be less pressure to re-sign Fairley.
On the flip side, if the Lions lose Suh, then they would really have to make a serious run at re-signing Fairley. Replacing both starters at defensive tackle would be extremely tough, and you'd almost be taking a bigger risk at that point by letting Fairley walk. In that sense, I guess I would characterize Fairley as Plan B to Suh's Plan A. In a perfect world, both players would be back on team-friendly deals, but that's not how free agency works, and it doesn't seem like there's a huge sense of urgency to re-sign Fairley at this point.
Previously: QB Dan Orlovsky, QB Kellen Moore, FB Jed Collins, WR Jeremy Ross, TE Kellen Davis, OT Corey Hilliard, OG Rob Sims, OG Garrett Reynolds, C Dominic Raiola, DE Darryl Tapp, DE George Johnson, DT Ndamukong Suh