The Detroit Lions want a highly-motivated Nick Fairley in 2014 and one of the ways they are going about trying to get that is by not picking up his fifth-year option.
— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) March 24, 2014
Under the current collective bargaining agreement, first-round draft picks sign four-year deals that come with team options for the fifth. The deadline to pick up the option comes on May 3 prior to the player’s fourth year and would pay the average of the third through 25th highest salaries at the position. That would be about $5.5 million.
When playing at his best, Fairley is worth that total but he has been an inconsistent player through three seasons as he has dealt with injuries and uneven production when on the field. Now, Fairley’s 2014 season will be an audition for all 32 teams as he will be an unrestricted free agent at its conclusion.
In going to this length to motivate Fairley it would seem the Lions are actually making their first step in moving away from their 2011 first round pick. With the expectation they will eventually come to an agreement on an extension with Ndamukong Suh, Fairley likely becomes too expensive should he finally live up to expectations. If he doesn’t, it is unlikely the Lions would be willing to continue trying to coax the production out of Fairley even at a lower price.