Why would the Bengals take a shot on a troubled defensive tackle with character concerns like former Detroit Lions and St. Louis Rams linemen Nick Fairley? No, I’m not as crazy as it seems by proposing this question. I know he hasn’t been the guy the world thought he would be when the Lions took him with the 13th pick out of Auburn in the 2011 NFL Draft; he has been very inconsistent even when playing along stars like Ndamukong Suh and Aaron Donald, and of course there is that concern of injury that he has battled during his time in the NFL. Okay, all of these are red flags, but as a 28-year-old, how do we know that Nick Fairley can’t be a solid contributor to this stout Cincinnati Bengals defensive line?
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Let’s start with his season in St. Louis with the Rams. He was a rotation guy who may not have had jaw-dropping stats, but was definitely effective in his time on the field before getting injured late in the season. In 15 games, Fairley recorded 29 tackles, a half sack, and a pass deflection, this isn’t a huge sample size, but he was certainly effective when on the field. Also, we all love Domata Peko and what he has done for the Bengals during his long tenure, but he has certainly declined over the past few seasons. Fairley along with Geno Atkins, Carlos Dunlap, and Michael Johnson could be a really solid group to continue the success Paul Guenther got from his defensive line last season.
It was rumored a bit before Nick Fairley signed with the St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams that we was a Bengals target during 2015 Free Agency. Currently, NFL.com has him listed as the 26th best free agent to hit the market this offseason, and currently rated as the best available defensive tackle.
Maybe they shouldn’t give him the guarantee of being a Bengal for 2016, but why not offer him an invite to training camp to go compete with guys like Marcus Hardison for a spot on the roster?