After Further Review: Breaking down the market for Nick Fairley - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

After Further Review: Breaking down the market for Nick Fairley

Nick Fairley had a succesful 2016 season. But will he be back in  New Orleans in 2017? (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune) Nick Fairley had a succesful 2016 season. But will he be back in New Orleans in 2017? (Photo by David Grunfeld, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)
(WVUE) -

The New Orleans Saints find themselves in an interesting situation with their biggest free agent, Nick Fairley.

At 29, Fairley is coming off his best season as a pro just in time for a new contract.

The knock on Fairley has always been motivation. When he’s motivated, like he was in 2016, he can be a dominant and disruptive force. When he isn’t, he can become disinterested and lethargic.

There’s no denying the Saints could use his skillset. But what they do with him depends on many of factors.

Here’s a look at the top-paid defensive tackles in the NFL.

**Contract numbers provided from spotrac**

Ndamakoung Suh, Miami

  • Age: 30
  • Average Salary: $19.2 M
  • Guaranteed: $60 M
  • 2016 stats: 72 tackles, 5 sacks, fumble recovery

Fletcher Cox, Philadelphia

  • Age: 26
  • Average Salary: $17M
  • Guaranteed: $36M
  • 2016 stats: 43 tackles, 6.5 sacks, forced fumble, fumble recovery

Marcell Dareus, Buffalo

  • Age: 27
  • Average Salary: $16M
  • Guaranteed: $42M
  • 2016 stats: 8 games, 39 tackles, 3.5 sacks.

Gerald McCoy, Tampa Bay

  • Age: 28
  • Average Salary: $15.8M
  • Guaranteed: $14.7M
  • 2016 stats: 34 tackles, 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries

Malik Jackson, Jacksonville

  • Age: 27
  • Average Salary: $14.2M
  • Guaranteed: $31.5M
  • 2016 stats: 33 tackles, 6.5 sacks, fumble recovery

Michael Brockers, Los Angeles

  • Age: 26
  • Average Salary:  $11.08M
  • Guaranteed: $18.1M
  • 2016 stats: 19 tackles

Geno Atkins, Cincinnati

  • Age: 28
  • Average Salary: $10.6 M
  • Guaranteed: $15M
  • 2016 stats: 32 tackles, 9 sacks

Corey Liuget, San Diego

  • Age: 26
  • Average Salary $10.2M
  • Guaranteed: $19.47M
  • 2016 stats: 36 tackles

Tyrone Crawford

  • Average Salary: $9M
  • Guaranteed: $24.65M
  • 2016 stats: 28 tackles, 4.5 sacks

Nick Fairley

  • Age: 29
  • Average Salary: ?
  • Guaranteed: ?
  • 2016 stats: 43 tackles, 6.5 sacks

Analysis:

Clearly, Fairley’s stats in 2016 were comparable to the top paid defensive tackles in football. His 43 tackles tied him for second on that list. His 6.5 sacks were tied for third. However, Fairley doesn’t have quite the leverage others enjoyed in this group.

First and foremost, in his career to date. While he certainly had a successful contract year, his entire six-year career has been wildly inconsistent. There was a reason the Saints were able to get him at the price they did. Second, is his age.  Fairley is 29; the only player younger is Suh. Thus, a contract longer than four years, unless they’re deliberate shell years, is unlikely.

Still, he earned himself a nice payday and perhaps revived his career with a great year in 2016. For the Saints, he was a huge bargain and brought life to the interior of the defensive line.

The contracts of Suh, Dareus, Cox and McCoy likely will not happen, at least with the Saints. However, given his production and the rise in salary cap, Fairley could reasonably expect a $10 million average salary and in the neighborhood of $20 million guaranteed on the open market.

The question is, is this too rich for the Saints?  

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