NEW ORLEANS — The New Orleans Saints have released defensive tackle Nick Fairley with a non-football illness designation after he missed all of the 2017 season because of a heart condition.

The Saints’ decision could be costly for Fairley, who’ll now have to use the grievance process or legal action to receive any more money from a four-year extension he signed during the 2017 offseason that could have been worth up to $28 million.

Had Fairley remained on the roster this season, his 2018 salary and roster bonus would have been worth $5 million.

The 6-foot-4, 308-pound Fairley had a career-best 6½ sacks for the Saints in 2016. But during a check-up last offseason, doctors flagged symptoms related to Fairley’s enlarged heart.

In his career, Fairley has played in 77 regular-season games, making 170 solo or assisted tackles — including one safety — and 20½ sacks.


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