When Ndamukong Suh departed for the Miami Dolphins, the Detroit Lions lost one of their starting defensive tackles, and they also lost their final remaining member of the 2010 draft class. Now, another starting defensive tackle is gone with Nick Fairley agreeing to a deal with the St. Louis Rams, and this means that the Lions have lost their final remaining member of the 2011 draft class.
Fairley signing with another team isn't exactly a big surprise given that the Lions reportedly decided to move on earlier in the week. After losing Suh, the thinking was that the Lions would go all out to re-sign Fairley, but it seems that the two sides never got all that close to agreeing on his value. Motivational issues in the past led to the Lions not picking up his fifth-year option, and continued injury concerns this past season only lessened his value in the eyes of the Lions.
Fairley landing in St. Louis will present a depressing what-if scenario for the Lions considering he'll be lining up alongside Aaron Donald. The Lions could have selected Donald with the 10th overall pick last year, but they chose tight end Eric Ebron instead. (Donald went three picks later to the Rams.) On top of that, had the Lions simply picked up Fairley's option, he would still be under contract for one more season, and they would have a Fairley/Donald defensive tackle combination instead of St. Louis.
That's all in the past now, though, and the Lions are moving forward with Haloti Ngata anchoring the defensive tackle position. He was acquired in a trade with the Baltimore Ravens earlier this week, and the Lions also added defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker on Thursday. They could still add extra depth at defensive tackle in free agency, but the Lions may just wait for the draft to solidify that position with Fairley officially no longer an option.
As reported earlier, it's a one-year prove it deal. Fairley gets $5 million w/incentives that could max it out to $8 million.— Jim Thomas (@jthom1) March 13, 2015