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New York Giants potential free-agent target: Nick Fairley, DT, Detroit Lions

Let's look at a talented, but enigmatic defensive tackle who could be a free agent.

Nick Fairley sacks Eli Manning for a safety during a 2013 game
Nick Fairley sacks Eli Manning for a safety during a 2013 game
Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

We talked recently about the idea of Ndamukong Suh possibly becoming a member of the New York Giants if the Detroit Lions star defensive tackle becomes a free agent. The idea of Suh playing for the Giants seems far-fetched.

What might not be nearly as far-fetched, however, is the idea of pursuing another defensive tackle who has lined up next to Suh much of the time the past few seasons -- Nick Fairley.

The 2011 first-round pick (13th overall) is also scheduled to become a free agent. According to Sean Yuille of SB Nation's Pride of Detroit Fairley's future in Detroit is tied to Suh's:

"It seems unlikely that Fairley will be back if the Lions re-sign Suh," Yuille said. "If Suh isn't re-signed, the Lions will really have to bring back Fairley given that there would be such little depth at defensive tackle if both players were to sign elsewhere."

The Lions did not pick up the fifth-year option on Fairley's rookie contract. An extensive injury history (broken foot that cost him six games as a rookie, shoulder ailments that cost him four games in 2012 and 2013 combined, an MCL sprain that caused him to miss eight games last season) and a constant struggle to keep Fairley's weight under control may have soured the Lions on Fairley.

Fairley also had a couple of run-ins with the law in 2012. He was arrested once for marijuana possession, though charges were later dropped. He was also arrested for driving under the influence and attempting to elude police.

Fairley, though, is a good player. He has 13.5 career sacks in 46 games from his defensive tackle spot, including six in 2013.

His Pro Football Focus scores are as follows:

  • 2014: Fairley was +9.8, including +5.7 vs. the run, +8.1 in pass rush and -4.0 for picking up five penalties in 297 snaps.
  • 2013: Fairley was +0.4 overall (-4.6 vs. run, +8.7 in pass rush, -6.7 for 11 penalties) in 693 snaps.
  • 2012: Fairley was +15.1 overall (+6.3 vs. run, +16.4 in pass rush, -9.1 for 11 penalties) in 511 snaps.
  • 2011: Fairley was +4.5 overall (+1.5 vs. run, +4.0 in pass rush, -3.0 for four penalties) in 274 snaps.

Obviously, Fairley can play the run and rush the passer. His penchant for penalties might, however, draw the ire of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin. Past struggles with weight, and apparently motivation, are also causes for concern.

"The tough thing about Fairley is that he has been so inconsistent over the years. The reason the Lions didn't pick up his option for 2015 is because they wanted to motivate him, and even that wasn't enough to fully change his mindset," Yuille said. "It took him being benched in the preseason for Fairley to finally change his ways and get his weight under control for good. From that point forward, Fairley finally lived up to his potential, but he missed the second half of the season with yet another injury. Unlike Suh, Fairley has not proven to be durable at all, and that's another concern that comes along with him."

Are you interested in seeing the Giants roll the dice on Fairley? Your thoughts, Giants fans?