MOBILE, Ala. -- New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis said Wednesday that there has been no resolution yet with defensive tackle Nick Fairley's contract, and he is not sure what the timetable will be.
Both sides filed grievances last year after the Saints placed Fairley on the reserve/non-football illness list because of a heart issue that prevented him from playing football.
Fairley signed a four-year contract last March that included an $8 million signing bonus and $14 million in guarantees. But the heart condition was discovered during follow-up testing after his initial physical. So the two sides will likely debate whether Fairley officially passed his physical. An arbitrator will have to determine if Fairley needs to return his signing bonus, if the Saints owe more guaranteed money or something in between. Or the sides could reach a settlement.
It’s also unclear if Fairley will try to seek clearance to play again. He has not spoken publicly since the heart issue was diagnosed last year.
As of now, Fairley is scheduled to count $7 million against the Saints’ salary cap in 2018, including his full salary and guaranteed bonuses. It’s possible all or part of that figure can be reduced.
Fairley, who turned 30 this week, was originally diagnosed with an enlarged heart before he joined the NFL as a first-round draft pick in 2011, a condition Saints coach Sean Payton said last year is not all that uncommon. And Fairley passed physicals with the Lions, Rams and Saints during his first six NFL seasons before a red flag popped up during his most recent physical.
Follow-up testing with multiple doctors then determined that Fairley’s condition had either worsened or was more serious than previously believed.
Fairley had his career-best season in his debut with the Saints in 2016, with 6.5 sacks and 22 quarterback hits.