Saints address pass-rush need with addition of Nick Fairley
The deal: According to Adam Schefter, the Saints signed former Rams DT Nick Fairley to a one-year deal (other contract details not currently available).
What it means for the Saints: Outside of Cameron Jordan (86.0 pass-rush grade in 2015), New Orleans’ next-best pass-rush grade in 2015 from the defensive line was Kevin Williams’ 77.7. In fact, as a unit, the Saints’ defense finished with the second-worst pass-rush grade in the NFL last season.
As a rotational member of the Rams’ defensive front, Fairley earned an 82.0 pass-rush grade on just 235 snaps.
Fairley went to St. Louis via Detroit last year, as the Lions decided not to pick up his 2015 option due to concerns about consistency and fitness. Under just a one-year deal with the Rams, Fairley (PFF’s 12th overall free agent) also posted the highest run-grade of his career, and a similar deal in New Orleans should help him maintain his motivation and production.
What it means for Los Angeles: While recently re-signed Rams DE William Hayes may not believe in dinosaurs, Los Angeles may not have much of choice but to do so, as the free-agent pool at defensive tackle is very shallow. The aforementioned 35-year-old Kevin Williams is an option, as is Henry Melton, who turns 30 this year and spent 2015 with the Bucs.
The other option for the Rams is to draft a defensive tackle, which is a viable strategy, considering the depth of the class. 2015 PFF defensive MVP Aaron Donald (99.9 overall grade last season) is the only positively-graded interior rusher currently on Los Angeles’ roster, thus we expect them to address Fairley’s departure in some capacity this off-season.