The Saints have placed Nick Fairley on the reserve/non-football illness list. He’s done for the year, and likely for the rest of his career.
Nick Fairley was diagnosed with a heart condition coming out of college. Doctors determined the condition was minor enough to play. But a recent re-examination raised some red flags, and after consulting at least three doctors the Saints have decided to take Fairley out of action.
Officially, the Saints say Fairley will undergo another reassessment at the end of the year. But heart conditions rarely improve. If there’s even the slightest chance of something happening during a game, Fairley won’t be allowed to suit up. He’s career is likely over. He may not announce his retirement at any time during the coming year — for contract reasons, he may not announce it until his contract expires — but we can treat it as a given. Fairley had a great year in New Orleans, and he deserves all of our love. It’s sad to see a career end like this. But the Saints have to move forward.
This turn of events opens up some field space for sophomore David Onyemata. Sheldon Rankins is all but guaranteed the starting 3-tech spot, with Tyeler Davison starting as the other DT. Onyemata, who saw rapid improvement over the course of 2016, will be their primary backup. Recently signed vet Tony McDaniel has a chance to compete for that fourth DT spot. But the Saints may very well look to bring in some more competition at what was once considered their strongest position.
One possible name that you’ll no doubt see thrown around: Sheldon Richardson. The standout defensive tackle for the New York Jets has been on the block for what feels like forever. He’s got a HUGE contract, but if the Saints can work out some Loomisnomics they might be able to make it work. The question, as always, is at what cost.