Nick Fairley DL DET 27 Days

The Lions will not exercise DT Nick Fairley's fifth-year option for 2015.

It means he'll be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. According to the team's official website, GM Martin Mayhew wants Fairley motivated for 2015, and doesn't believe he's a "$5.5 million player right now." The No. 13 overall pick of the 2011 draft, Fairley has dealt with weight and injury issues. A consistent and healthy 2014 could result in a monster payday.

Nick Fairley DL DET 2 Months

MLive.com's Kyle Meinke believes Lions DT Nick Fairley's weight had reached "at least" 320 by late last season.

Meinke observed Fairley playing with a "sizable belly." Fairley is listed at 6'3/291 on the Lions' website and measured 6-foot-3 7/8, 291 at the 2011 Combine. GM Martin Mayhew recently reiterated he wants Fairley's work ethic to improve. "I'd like to see his commitment to the offseason program improve, and see him on a consistent basis," said Mayhew. "It's voluntary, but if he's not training with us, I'd like to see him training somewhere."

Nick Fairley DL DET 3 Months

Lions GM Martin Mayhew says DT Nick Fairley could stand to "reposition" some weight.

Fairley is listed at 6-foot-3, 291 on the team's official website. The number is fine, but Fairley's belly was noticeably larger than it was just a couple years ago at Auburn. He still had a heck of a 2013 season, starting a career-high 15 games and posting new career-bests in tackles (35) and sacks (6). Fairley has one year left on his rookie deal, though the Lions hold a 2015 option.

Nick Fairley DL DET 3 Months

Lions DT Nick Fairley finished his third NFL season with career highs in tackles (35), sacks (6.0), and starts (15), also registering two forced fumbles.

Turning 26 later this month, Fairley turned in a true breakout campaign, finishing No. 15 overall in Pro Football Focus' defensive tackle pass-rush ratings. Teammate Ndamukong Suh was No. 2. Fairley needs to cut down on his penalties -- he was flagged 13 times in 2013 -- but he's already a star. The Lions' defensive line remains the team's primary strength entering the offseason.

Nick Fairley DL DET 7 Months

Lions DT Nick Fairley (shoulder) is inactive for Week 2 at Arizona.

Although he was listed as questionable, Fairley's inactivity is surprising because he practices on Friday. He'll be replaced by Justin Bannan next to Ndamukong Suh. In addition to Fairley, Detroit's Week 2 inactives are QB Kellen Moore, RB Mikel Leshoure, S Don Carey, G Leroy Harris, RT Jason Fox, and WR Ryan Broyles.

Nick Fairley DL DET 7 Months

Lions DT Nick Fairley (shoulder) returned to practice Friday.

Fairley missed practice both Wednesday and Thursday. He's officially listed as questionable, but is on track to play after returning on a limited basis Friday.

Nick Fairley DL DET Apr 19 '13

Teammate Stephen Tulloch is impressed with Lions DT Nick Fairley's offseason.

"He's slim, he's focused, and he's about his business," Tulloch said of Fairley. "He's going into his third year, he's taking a step, he's grown as a player, he's put all that negative stuff behind him, and he's moving forward." According to Tulloch, Fairley talks about going to the Super Bowl "every day." If Fairley can stay healthy and keep his head on straight, he has All-Pro ability.

Nick Fairley DL DET Mar 24 '13

Coach Jim Schwartz says the Lions are going to "rely even more" on DT Nick Fairley this upcoming season.

Fairley had an outstanding 2012 sophomore season that saw him register 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles, but he played in just over 500 defensive snaps due to injury. The top defensive tackles participate in about 900 snaps a season. Fairley has also started just seven games in two years. That's going to change with Corey Williams and Sammie Lee Hill now out of the picture.

Nick Fairley DL DET Mar 22 '13

Lions DT Nick Fairley is ineligible for a pre-trial diversion program on charges stemming from his May 2012 arrest for DUI.

That's because the court had already dropped misdemeanor marijuana charges against the trouble-making defensive tackle. He's now at the court's whim. Fairley will still likely avoid jail time, but it's not a guarantee.

Nick Fairley DL DET Jan 11 '13

Lions players voted DT Nick Fairley the team's most improved player following his breakout 2012 season.

The 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft, Fairley improved from 15 tackles and one sack to 34 tackles, 5.5 sacks, and two forced fumbles in his sophomore NFL season. Pro Football Focus graded Fairley as the fifth best defensive tackle in all of football this past season. He was one of the few bright spots during a tumultuous 2012 season for the Lions' organization.