After one season with the St. Louis Rams as a backup (422 snaps), defensive tackle Nick Fairley had a fair amount of rumored interest on the free agent market early in the process. The Philadelphia Eagles, New York Jets, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints have all been attached to the former first-round pick at some point, and some talk of a return to the Rams had surfaced last week.
But Ian Rapoport of NFL Network is now reporting that the Patriots are “out” on Fairley and he is expected to sign with the Saints. It can be assumed the Jets and Eagles have also put any interest in Fairley on the back burner.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 25, 2016
Fairley was graded as a top-25 interior defender by Pro Football Focus last year, so he should help the Saints’ 31st-ranked run defense from last season (129.8 yards per game). Fairley had 11.5 sacks over the 2012 and 2013 seasons with the Detroit Lions, so he should also have something to offer as a pass rusher for a New Orleans’ defense that needs all the help it can get.
The Saints are right up against the salary cap, so they will need to clear some room before they can sign Fairley. That can presumably be done easily, perhaps with a contract extension for quarterback Drew Brees to spread out his 2016 cap hit, so official news on Fairley heading to New Orleans may come soon.