Fairley (illness) was placed on the Saints' reserve/non-football injury list Monday, effectively ending his 2017 campaign, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com reports. Fairley's future in the league has been put into serious question due to his heart condition, which was first revealed earlier this month. The issue comes just a year after the 29-year-old recorded career highs with 43 tackles (29 solo) and 6.5 sacks across 16 games in New Orleans. It's a devastating blow for the Saints defense, and Fairley's absence leaves David Onyemata and Tony McDaniel as the frontrunners to fill in for him along the line. At this point, it seems like the safest option for Fairley is to hang up the cleats for good.
Fairley has been absent from OTAs due to a heart issue that could jeopardize his career, FOX Sports' Jennifer Hale reports. The specifics of Fairley's condition aren't clear, but he's presumably set to undergo more testing so more details should come to light in due time. The former first-rounder is coming off the most productive season of his six-year career and losing him would throw a wrench in the Saints' defensive plans for 2017.
Fairley signed a four-year, $30 million contract with the Saints on Thursday, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports. Fairley was signed to a one-year deal with New Orleans last season and he produced career highs with 43 tackles and 6.5 sacks. His deal locks him up with the team through his age 33 season. Expect Fairley to start along the defensive line once again in 2017.
Fairley played 58 of the Saints' 82 defensive snaps in Week 6, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune. He made three tackles and half a sack against the Panthers. Fairley now has 3.5 sacks this season, which ranks third in the NFL among defensive tackles. His 19 combined tackles also rank in the top 25 among all defensive lineman. After struggling in limited action his last two seasons in both St. Louis and Detroit, Fairley has been receiving consistent playing time in his first season in New Orleans and is currently on pace to set career highs in both sacks and tackles. While his snap count may be reduced some when rookie first-round pick Sheldon Rankins is activated from IR, Fairley should continue to see enough playing time to warrant owning in deeper IDP leagues based on his impressive early-season performance.
Fairley made seven tackles (four solo), including 1.5 sacks, in Monday night's loss to the Falcons. Fairley was one of the few bright spots for the Saints in an otherwise ugly defensive performance on national television. However, his big performance against Atlanta was likely a mirage. In his previous five NFL seasons, Fairley had only one other game in which he had more than five tackles and the big defensive tackle has a career-high of only six sacks, which he set in 2013.
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