Fairley agrees to 1-year, $5M deal with Rams

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Nick Fairley smiles as he makes an appearance with St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher during a news conference Friday in St. Louis.

The Lions were hesitant to overpay defensive tackle Nick Fairley after four years of inconsistent play and weight issues.

Fairley's new team, the St. Louis Rams, had similar concerns, but still paid Fairley more than the Lions were willing to give him.

The 27-year-old Fairley agreed to a one-year deal with the Rams Friday. The deal is worth $5 million in base salary, but Fairley can earn up to $7.5 million in incentives, according to NFL Network.

Fairley also visited the Cincinnati Bengals after the Lions decided not to re-sign him. Now, he'll join a loaded defensive line with guys like Robert Quinn, Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and Chris Long.

The Lions could've ensured Fairley stayed in Detroit in 2015, but the team chose to decline the fifth-year option on his rookie contract that would've paid him $5.5 million. The decision was a motivational ploy to keep Fairley in shape, which had mixed results as he was in shape in the offseason program then overweight in training camp.

With Fairley leaving, the Lions now have nobody left from their 2011 draft class. They also lost their last player from the 2010 draft class when defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh signed with the Miami Dolphins this week.

Fairley was the 13th overall pick by the Lions in 2011. At the time, it appeared to be a luxury pick with Suh, Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill on the roster, but it was a sign the Lions wanted to have their strength on the interior of the defensive line.

Now, with Suh and Fairley gone, the Lions traded for Haloti Ngata from the Ravens and signed Tyrunn Walker from the Saints Thursday, but they still need another starting-caliber defensive tackle.

Fairley flashed Pro Bowl potential at times, but his four years with the Lions were marred by inconsistency and injuries. In 46 games, he finished with 98 tackles, 13 ½ sacks, one safety and four forced fumbles.