(Photo Credit: Billy Hurley – USA Today Sports)
The St. Louis Rams made a new addition to their already monstrous defensive line signing former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley to a one year $5 million deal. With incentives he can make up to $8 million.
Fairley, a 13th overall selection in the 2013 draft by the Lions played two seasons of collegiate ball for the Auburn Tigers where he holds the single season record for the most sacks with 11.5. He also received the Rotary Lombardy award in 2010 for the nations top collegiate lineman in addition to being named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the 2010 BCS National Championship game.
In his first four years Fairley put up decent numbers with 98 tackles (66 solo) and 13.5 sacks, but never developed into the type of first round talent Detroit had hoped for. He had eight tackles and a sack before going down with his knee injury midway through last season.
Fairley has missed significant time in his career with various injuries. Most notably he missed the final eight games a season ago with a knee injury.
Fairley had good things to say about the Rams in his opening press conference and isn’t putting too much thought into the starting rotation.
“The defense and the style they play. The attacking style. They like to get in the backfield and disrupt the edge upfront and that’s the kind of guy I am. I feel like it’s a perfect fit for me. The guys in this group, the D-line, they’re young, they’re moving forward and I want to be a part of it.”
Despite slimming down to 280, Fairley said he plans to bulk back up prior to the start of the regular season. Fairley’s weight had been a concern for the Lions when he came into training camp, which ultimately resulted in a demotion.
In addition to bulking up when asked how he’s going to handle working for former Marine turned Rams DL coach Mike Waufle, Fairley pointed out his father is also a former Marine.
“Yes, sir. Great guy. As a matter of fact my dad is an ex-Marine, so I knew a little bit about ex-Marines.”
Fairley, who was picked right before Rams defensive end Robert Quinn will join arguably the best defensive line in all of football that features Quinn, defensive rookie of the year Aaron Donald, Chris Long, and Michael Brockers. It’s worth noting that all five of these defensive linemen were first round picks and there are only four starting slots.
With the recent addition of Akeem Ayers at linebacker the Rams have now built a formidable defense with depth at each position. While Fairley could have probably signed elsewhere and been a starter it’s great to see St. Louis continue to build where their strengths are.
Problems still need addressing include the wide out position and offensive tackle, but if Jeff Fisher and Les Snead can come out of 2015 with a draft class similar to 2014 they will be in good shape.
We know what the defense can do and this addition only reassures the fact. Now the question becomes can Nick Foles step up and lead this team to a playoff birth and who will be the offensive playmakers that help him do it?
For more St. Louis Rams updates follow @NickYahl on Twitter