The New Orleans Saints announced on Monday that they’re placing veteran defensive tackle Nick Fairley on the NFL’s reserve/NFI (non-football illness) list.
It’s been a seemingly long wait to get to this point, as fans clearly expected the worst when word broke of Fairley’s pre-existing heart condition that threatened the future of his career during the offseason.
Being placed on the NFI is similar to being placed on PUP, or the physically unable to perform list. However, most are suggesting that his season is over. According to Section 20, Article 3 of the 2011 CBA (collective bargaining agreement), here’s some information on NFI in regards to salary cap implications.
A player who is placed on a Nonfootball Injury or Illness list (“N-F/I”) will not be entitled to any compensation under his contract while on such list but, except as provided below, his contract will continue to run while in such status.
A player on N-F/I who is in the final year of his contract (including an option year) will have his contract tolled. However, if the player is physically able to perform his football services on or before the sixth regular season game, the club must pay the player his negotiated Paragraph 5 Salary (pro rata) for the balance of the season in order to toll such player’s contract. If such player is taken off N-F/I during the period when such action is allowed by League rules, his contract will not be tolled.
So, from a cap perspective, Fairley is owed a $1 million base salary for 2017, which the Saints may or may not pay.
The Saints recently added veteran Tony McDaniel, which now feels like a preemptive move to the Fairley situation. The team has second-year defensive linemen Sheldon Rankins and David Onyemata set to contribute more, as well as Tyeler Davison. Other considerations for the spot would be Ashaad Mabry and Justin Zimmer.