Nick Fairley seems to be reacting in a positive manner to general manager Martin Mayhew’s decision to not pick up the 5th year option on Fairley’s rookie contract. The question is, is he motivated to improve his play and become a more consistent force for the Detroit Lions or is he just auditioning for his next contract elsewhere.
Fairley has all the potential in the world and the Lions envisioned him being paired with Ndamukong Suh on the interior of their line for many years. What they didn’t prepare for is that they would have neither under contract for 2015. Mayhew invested back to back first round picks in the pair of defensive tackles and Suh has by far been more impressive making three pro bowls in his four years in the NFL. Fairley has been plagued by weight issues, injuries and lackluster performances. There have been moments though where it’s worked and when the two of them are playing at a high level, it’s pretty near impossible to accomplish anything against them offensively. It just hasn’t been consistent.
So, Mayhew took the approach of tough love this year. Fairley showed up at his proper playing weight this at 295 pounds. He also revealed that he had surgery for sleep apnea which should help his performance going forward. Problem is, he won’t be here next year. The Lions are working hard to negotiate an extension with Suh that would likely keep him here for the rest of his career. Fairley’s contract for next season will be something the Lions won’t even be able to consider. This is their only shot to have the vision of the pair dominating and succeeding to control the game from the inside.
If the Lions are unable to extend Suh, they would have the option to apply the franchise tag to him. Unless a dramatic injury of fall off in performance occurs, Suh isn’t going anywhere. For better or worse, Suh is one of the faces of this franchise. He should be, he’s one of the NFL’s most intimidating players. Fairley can be great. He probably will be this year. Enjoy it Lions fans, he won’t be back. If they are able to extend Suh, the franchise tag option is unaffordable to the Lions for Fairley. It’s far to much money to invest in one position against the salary cap. So, there it is, one more and done. Hopefully Fairley being more consistent helps push the Lions into the playoffs, otherwise another high draft pick will have been wasted.