With Ndamukong Suh headed to the Dolphins, Nick Fairley is likely the next target for the Lions to sign.
The defensive tackle, a first-round pick in 2011, could hit the free agent market at 4 p.m. on Tuesday when free agency officially opens.
Fairley has never been able to stay healthy which is a concern for Lions and other possible suitors. He played just eight games in 2014 after suffering a knee injury in October. He has never played a 16-game season although he made it to 15 in 2013. That concern could keep his price down to $5 million or $6 million per year.
Fairley changed last year after the Lions didn’t pick up his fifth-year option. No longer is there a concern about his conditioning and work habits. At the end of last season, his weight was down to 292 even though he hadn’t played in months. He credits his personal chef for keeping the weight off.
He is coming off that knee injury, but was nearly ready to play for the first playoff game. If they had won, he might have seen time in the next round.
If he keeps the weight off and maintains his conditioning, it gives him a better chance to stay healthy.
C.J. Mosley (who started eight games in 2014) can also become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
So can Andre Fluellen who re-joined the Lions last season after Fairley’s injury.
At this point, the only true defensive tackle on the roster is Caraun Reid who is not ready to start.
Other free agent defensive tackles are likely to become available on Tuesday, but look for the Lions to focus in on Fairley first. Other possibilities include: Kendall Langford (who was cut by the Rams), the Bears' Stephen Paea, Miami's Jared Odrick (reportedly headed to Jaguars), Falcons' Corey Peters and the Cowboys' Henry Melton.