After just one season with the Los Angeles Rams, defensive tackle Nick Fairley is on the move, as he agreed to sign with the New Orleans Saints on Monday.
New Orleans Saints @Saints
Welcome DT Nick Fairley (@Nick_Fairley251) to New Orleans! #Saints https://t.co/k1PXeMw5P52016-3-28 14:49:41
Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported Tuesday that Fairley's deal is for $3 million with $1.75 million in incentives for sacks and playing time. Nick Underhill of the Advocate added that Fairley's deal can be voided after the first year.
New Orleans emerged as a strong candidate for Fairley's services after Rapoport reported he was in town for a visit on March 17.
The 2015 season was Fairley's first and only campaign with the Rams, and he won't be making the move from St. Louis to Los Angeles after registering 29 tackles and 0.5 sacks in 15 games.
Although the presence of Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers prevented him from starting a single game for the Rams, Pro Football Focus rated him the best among interior linemen who played somewhat sparingly in 2015, according to Bleacher Report's Richard Janvrin:
Richard Janvrin @RichardJanvrin
Nick Fairley played well in limited action in 2015. Had the highest grade on @PFF among all DTs with 500 or less snaps. #Rams2016-2-7 17:55:15
The 2011 first-round pick spent the first four seasons of his career with the Detroit Lions alongside Ndamukong Suh.
Fairley was somewhat inconsistent, although he enjoyed strong campaigns in both 2012 and 2013, registering 69 total tackles and 11.5 total sacks between those two seasons.
The former Auburn standout dropped off significantly in 2014, as he missed eight contests because of injury and put up just 14 tackles on the season.
A lack of commitment to staying in shape may have been the main culprit for his struggles, but Rams head coach Jeff Fisher saw a motivated Fairley in 2015, per Carlos Monarrez of the Detroit Free Press:
He was at a point in his career where he needed to come in and settle down and just play, and he did that. And, as a matter of fact, you guys may not be aware of this, but at some point there his weight was probably an issue. It was an issue when he got here, because he was too light.
He changed his lifestyle, changed his diet, changed a lot of things, and he's been a really effective player for us and a great teammate. Shows up every day. There's no issues.
Although Fairley didn't put up eye-popping statistics with the Rams because of their depth at defensive tackle, he acquitted himself well when he played and didn't seem to have issues with motivation or his attitude.
He didn't have many options besides signing a one-year deal with the Rams because of questions on those fronts, but he restored some of his value over the 2015 season.
While the Rams probably would have liked to keep Fairley to maintain their excellent rotation along the defensive line, they have more pressing holes to address.
Defensive tackle was one of the biggest holes New Orleans needed to fill, though, with John Jenkins, Tyeler Davison and Co. not exactly inspiring confidence.
The move may also prove to be a good one for Fairley, as he figures to receive more consistent playing time, which could help him get back to the level he displayed a few years ago.
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