After being placed on the non-football illness list (NFI), New Orleans Saints DT Nick Fairley will miss the entire 2017 season due to an enlarged heart, the team announced on Monday. Earlier this month, Coach Sean Payton announced that Fairley was seeking a third opinion on his heart that would determine whether he would have to retire or not. Fairley has been dealing with this heart condition since entering the league in 2011. Payton said that at least one doctor told him to stop playing football.
During the 2017 off-season, Fairley signed a 4 year/$30M extension after career highs in tackles (43) and sacks (6.5), which ranked him second on the team behind Cameron Jordan’s 7.5 sacks. Fairley was drafted with the 13th pick in the first round by the Detroit Lions and spent 4 seasons with the organization before signing with the LA Rams in 2015. Fairley played one year for the Rams before signing with the Saints in 2016. During his 7 year career, Fairley totaled 120 tackles, 20.5 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries in 77 career games.
The following is from NFL.com:
“He’s gotten two professional opinions,” Payton said at the time. “The first one was one that advised that he shouldn’t play football again. The second opinion was a little different, and he’s getting a third opinion or he’s already gotten a third opinion, we’re waiting on that opinion.”
“The things we know are this, it’s obviously something significant and serious that we’ve got to pay attention to, obviously both for Nick and for the club. So we’re hopeful and yet we’re guarded because of the type of condition that we’re talking about.”
NOLA.com’s Josh Katzenstein reported that the Saints are trying to recoup the deal, or at least reconfigure it. Whether Fairley decides to retire or keep playing will be determined at a later date. The Saints play Fairley’s old team, the Lions, on October 15th.