When the Lions declined to pick up the fifth-year option on defensive tackle Nick Fairley’s contract, they said it was because they wanted to motivate him to work harder heading into a contract year. It appears to be working.
Fairley told the Detroit Free Press that he has lost 27 pounds since the end of the season, and he’s now a few pounds under 300, the slimmest he’s been since he was at Auburn, where he won the Lombardi Award as the best lineman or linebacker in college football, and helped his team win a national championship.
“I’d say I’m back to my Auburn ways,” Fairley said. “I feel like back when I was at that national championship, and you know how that year went so looking to repeat it.”
As for the Lions’ decision not to pick up his 2015 option, Fairley said he welcomes the opportunity to play for a new contract next year.
“I kind of said it’s a good thing, kind of,” Fairley said. “It kind of will put me into a new contract earlier than [other] guys coming out in my draft. They’re picking up guys’ fifth-year option, that gets me into a new contract. That’s the way I look at it.”
If an in-shape and motivated Fairley plays up to his potential, there’s a good chance the Lions will either have to pay him more next year than they would have had to pay him on their fifth-year option, or that they’ll lose him in free agency. But if a slimmer Fairley has a huge 2014 season, the Lions will welcome that, and deal with his contract next year.