The New York Jets could show interest in defensive tackle Nick Fairley if they lose some players from last season on the defensive line, according to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta.
Fairley, 28, recorded 18 total tackles, 1/2 a sack and one fumble recovery in 15 games for the St. Louis Rams last season. Before that, he spent four years with the Detroit Lions.
Free agent defensive tackle Damon Harrison, who recorded 72 total tackles last season for New York, may cost too much for the Jets to keep in 2016 and beyond.
Fairley was a top-15 pick in the same draft class as Muhammad Wilkerson. For years, Fairley played the "Robin" role to Ndamukong Suh's "Batman" in Detroit. Fairley signed a one-year deal last offseason when he was a free agent and rounded out a scary defensive front for the 2015 Rams in a 4-3 DT role. Fairley only recorded one half sack, but was disruptive against the pass and solid against the run. Fairley would not be a replacement for Harrison, but rather a replacement for Wilkerson, should the team be able to find a trade partner for him.
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Fairley earned $5 million last year and did a good job in a rotational role with the Rams, coming off a knee injury in 2014. While the Jets might have a need for veteran reinforcements with Leger Douzable and Stephen Bowen each also out of contract, I don't think they'd be able to sign Fairley to a low-cost deal. So, as Bassett suggests, this is probably something they have lined up in the event of Wilkerson's departure. I would expect that this is more to do with due diligence than a sign something is about to happen on the Wilkerson front, but we'll continue to monitor the situation.