Lions won’t exercise fifth-year option on Nick Fairley


The guy that bet me each team will exercise the fifth-year option on every 2011 first-round pick owes me 2014 season tickets on the 50 yard line.

Contrary to the widespread belief that teams will keep their options open on first-round picks from the first year of the rookie wage scale by exercising the new fifth-year option, the Lions have said they won’t exercise that right regarding defensive tackle Nick Fairley.

Via Tim Twentyman of the team’s official website, G.M. Martin Mayhew said the team wants Fairley to be motivated in 2014.

He’s a phenomenal talent,” Mayhew said. “This guy can be whatever he wants to be. That’s probably why I’m on him so hard. . . .  It’s an opportunity for him to go out and perform his best this offseason, perform his best during the season and hopefully it helps him become the best player he can possibly be. . . . [The option] is $5.5 million dollars and I have to ask myself is he a $5.5 million player? There’s some performances where he is. There’s some performances where he’s not.”

The same effect could be created by exercising the option and telling Fairley that, unless he earns the option year in 2014, he’ll be cut.  Exercising the option, however, limits his financial ceiling for 2015.  Giving him a shot at the open market doesn’t.

Then again, it’s not as if Fairley will hit the open market if he has a huge year.  The Lions then would then use the franchise tag, which was $9.654 million in 2014.

It’s a gamble of more than $4 million for the Lions, but if Fairley plays extremely well in 2014 it will have been worth it.

The more important question is whether that added motivation will disappear once Fairley gets a huge-money deal, like it did with Albert Haynesworth.  If the Lions currently believe Fairley needs to be chasing a huge contract in order to play to the best of his abilities, their biggest mistake ultimately could be to give him one.

35 responses to “Lions won’t exercise fifth-year option on Nick Fairley

  1. Interesting. So, who would replace him at $5.5 mil, or less, if they don’t keep him? That’s a heck of a gamble at $9.654 mil. If you aren’t going to exercise that option, you might as well just cut ties with him.

  2. There’s no good reason for Fairley not to be effective this year. We should have gambled on him having a good season and tried to save money on the upside scenario coming to fruition.

  3. This Sums up the whole Lions team just not Fairly sometimes they play great but most of the time not so much.

  4. So many chat board GMs. He’s fat. They don’t want to give him a free ride of a 5th year. They want him to earn it. Doesn’t sound like a horrible idea really? If he hits the open market and bolts, he bolts. Make him earn his next deal. Doesn’t mean they have to cut ties now, later, or in between. It means he can earn his next deal.

  5. People always talk about Detroit and their ” talent “. I just don’t see it. All they have is CJ, Stafford, and Suh. Who else is any good on that team?? I can’t name a single player in their secondary. Detroit has 4th place locked up in the NFC North and the season hasn’t even begun..

    #overrated #detroitcity

  6. Translation: “We don’t think we’re being squeezed hard enough by the salary cap as it is ; we want to be in an even tighter spot next offseason.”

  7. The Lions can make out and get a comp pick for Fairley, depending on the value of the contract, and whether they lose more FA’s than they gain.

  8. Should have looked to trade him and get another first round pick if he hasn’t performed they way they want at this point. Take the two 1st round picks and move up to draft Clowney and get Vince Wilfork next to Suh. Good God that would be a scary d-line. Ansah, Wilfork, Suh and Clowney!

  9. The cap is projected to go up another 10 mil next year, squeezing the 4 mil difference under it won’t be that hard, especially if they extend Suh.

  10. The lions face the same dilemma other teams with good 2nd tier qbs face…you gotta pay the qb huge money (just below the elite) n if you have one other star like megatron you don’t have money to fill out a solid roster. The falcons, ravens, bengals and Cowboys all have 4,000 yd qbs and 1 or 2 other “stars” but always fall short because 35% of their cap goes to 2 guys.

  11. if I was any player on the Lions, I would ask out of there because of their losing ways. even Barry Sanders should have asked to move on from them. they’re the biggest joke in the league, besides the Raiders, Browns, and Jaguars. all you have to know is one statistic, to not want to play for the Lions: 1 playoff win in the last 50 years.

  12. So after this year will they then be forced to sign him to a contract with a series one-year options to keep him motivated? If the guy ain’t motivated yet, he ain’t gonna be motivated later.

  13. Fairley has not been an awful player, as a matter of fact he flashes quite often. The problem is that the flashes don’t equate to his pay. This is a worthwhile risk…as long as Suh is gets penned for the long term.

  14. Well played by the lions, If Fairley wants to ge paid he’ll have to get his half motivated, jelly roll keester, producing this season. I’d say the lions still won’t be able to recoop the overpayment for production up to this point. Sad these guys have to be pushed to give 100%. If the teams and league were smart they would do away with guaranteed contracts, all players get paid same base salary when they make the team, and then major incentive laden contracts based solely on performance.

  15. I said it then and I will say it now. The drafting of Nick Fairley was the beginning of the end for Martin Mayhew. Sadly ownerships incompetence has allowed Mayhew to blame JS for his mistakes in personnel. Has ANY GM ever drafted a group of degenerates bigger than the 2011 draft class of the Lions. Fairly, Titus, Leshoure, and Culbreth. More arrests among them than almost all the players on most other teams combined. That draft class was the reason JS lost his job. I dare say Bill B wouldn’t have done much better with these fools early in their careers. And to think the LAST THING the Lions needed was a DT that year. Arrogance beyond understanding. You need a DE and you take Fairley over Quinn. Can anyone here fathom what Quinn Suh and Ansah would have done last year? The Lions make the play offs last season and JS is still coach. its ALL MM’s fault and it started with Fairley!!

  16. I think there’s a good chance that he’s gone from Detroit at the end of the year regardless. It’s up to Fairley whether he’ll be leaving Detroit for a lot more money or a lot less money.

    If he has a great season, I don’t see the Lions signing him to a big multi-year deal. More than likely they’ll let someone else take a chance on him. It’s possible that they’ll franchise him, but I just don’t see them spending almost $10M to keep him for one more year.

    If he doesn’t have great season, he’ll be playing someplace else as a backup.

  17. No way is he ever franchised. They can’t take that hit. Impossible.
    Suh has them over the barrel with that guaranteed money, so cuts elsewhere must be made.
    How does the Detroit GM still have a job?

  18. Let’s see….during the draft Fairley was picked….the Lions could have traded up with the Cardinals to get Patrick Peterson. But, they thought they were smarter than everyone and opted against the trade…..what a mistake! They chose Fairley and two other losers…Peterson is a superstar…Fairley needs motivation to be a semi-star.

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