METAIRIE -- Nick Fairley's future in the NFL is on the line as the Saints wait for a third opinion on his heart health.
According to Saints Head Coach Sean Payton, Fairley has received two conflicting medical opinions about a heart condition and is waiting on a third before deciding on the future of his football career.
"The first one was one that advised that he should not play football again," Payton said. "The second opinion was a little different, and he is getting a third opinion or has already gotten a third opinion. We are waiting on that opinion."
Fairley joined the Saints last season after being drafted by the Detroit Lions in 2011 and spending a season with the St. Louis Rams. Fairley had career highs with the Saints in 2016 with 6.5 sacks and 43 tackles.
He signed a four-year deal with the black and gold this offseason. According to Payton, the Saints were aware of Fairley's condition before he signed his new contract.
"The testing came, and like anything else with something like that, it was one small thing that led to a little bit more. Then we sent him out east for an examination. He’s had one in Houston, and I know he had a third now as recently as yesterday or the day before," Payton said. "That’s the ongoing challenge, because part of the process was during that evaluation. The most important thing right now in our mind is his well-being."
Fairley did not participate in OTA's and may not participate in mini camp depending on his condition, but Payton said Fairley is doing fine in the meantime.
"At first, (he was) a little surprised," Payton said. "There are two ways to look at it: the potential bad news is that you do not play football again; the potential good news is that you lead a healthy life with the condition that you know you have and treat it accordingly. In the event that there is enough confidence that he can play, then we broach that when the time comes.”
The Saints will discuss Fairley's future with him and his agent when the time is right, Payton said.