For the second straight season, the New Orleans Saints have landed a veteran defensive tackle with minimal risk involved.
Former Rams defensive tackle Nick Fairley, a former first-round pick for the Detroit Lions, agreed to a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on Monday.
Fairley chose a one-year deal with the Saints over offers from the New England Patriots, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles, according to the NFL Network, adding a veteran defensive tackle to a Saints’ haul that has managed to add five veterans to the roster and keep most of the team’s key free agents despite opening the free-agency period with minimal cap space.
New Orleans had only $273,215 of cap space available after officially signing linebacker James Laurinaitis last week, and deals for linebacker Craig Robertson, tight end Josh Hill and safety Jamarca Sanford haven’t hit the books yet, making it likely that New Orleans plans to restructure or extend the contracts of a few returning Saints to create room for Fairley and the rest of the moves.
Whatever the financial implications may be for the Saints, from a football standpoint, winning the auction for Fairley’s services instantly adds a veteran presence to one of the biggest holes on the roster.
New Orleans opened free agency with a major need -- what the Saints’ leadership would call a “must” -- at the 3-technique defensive tackle position, the penetrating interior defensive line spot manned by 35-year-old Kevin Williams last season. When New Orleans signed Williams last summer, the aging star was expected to be part of a rotation, but injuries and roster moves at other spots on the defensive line forced Williams to play 555 snaps, or 52.1 percent of the defense’s snaps, last season.