Fairley leaving Lions for St. Louis Rams

Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater (5) is tackled by Detroit Lions defensive tackle Nick Fairley (98) during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 12, 2014, in Minneapolis.

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Momentarily, the Nick at the microphone in St. Louis was not who everyone expected.

The St. Louis Rams agreed to terms with defensive tackle Nick Fairley on a one-year free agent deal, bringing in Fairley to a news conference as a brief surprise before introducing new quarterback Nick Foles.

“We all know why we’re here,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher began. “This is a special time for you to get an opportunity to meet Nick. So let’s bring Nick in.’

Into the auditorium packed mostly with Rams employees and assistant coaches walked Fairley, not Foles.

“How you all doing?” Fairley asked.

“Nick Fairley needs to go upstairs and sign his contract, he’ll be available to you later,” Fisher added.

“Now we want to introduce you to the other Nick.”

Fairley met with reporters about two hours later after signing a $5 million deal. He said he’d been asked at the last minute to make the cameo appearance and was happy to participate.

“It was great, great,” Fairley said. “That was a good idea.”

Foles, no joke, walked in to what certainly had to be an awkward situation.

Foles sat between Fisher and general manager Les Snead. Fisher and Snead tried to explain why Sam Bradford had become expendable in the trade with Philadelphia for Foles. Fisher said Bradford would probably not have been back even if he’d agreed to a pay cut.

Snead referred to the Bradford situation as a “quarterback conundrum” and Fisher said he thought the 6-foot-6 Foles was a good fit for the offense. Foles threw 27 touchdown passes with two interceptions in 2013, and was 9-4 as the starter.

“2013 was just so impressive, what he was able to do, all the throws,” Fisher said. “He loves to put it down the field.”

Foles said he’s “180 percent” recovered from a broken collarbone that sidelined him the last half of 2014.

“I feel at home and I’m thankful for the opportunity to be here,” Foles said. “As a young player you always want to play for your first team, but I’m thankful I’m here, I’m excited to be here, and I’m ready to get to work.”

Bradford is entering the final year of a six-year, $78 million deal he signed after the Rams drafted him first overall in 2010. His base salary for next season is $13 million and his cap number is $16.58 million.

“It was an issue, and it was an issue that was addressed for quite some time, and it was not an issue with respect to the transaction as far as they were concerned,” Fisher said.

Bradford missed all last season after reinjuring his surgically repaired left knee in the preseason. He missed the last nine games in 2013 after injuring the knee the first time.

Fisher said he met with Bradford on Tuesday morning, not long before the trade, and told him the Rams had been talking with the Eagles.

“He wanted to know what was going on,” Fisher said. “I just told him the truth, and then two hours later things really accelerated.”

At every news conference since the season ended, Fisher said Bradford would be his quarterback next season. At the combine, Snead said “deleting” Bradford wasn’t the answer.

“When coach Fish says he was his quarterback, that was true, because at that moment there was no trade,” Snead said. “And there was definitely no one like Nick coming into the building.”

The Rams also added Case Keenum, who was on their practice squad much of last season. They reacquired Keenum from Houston for a seventh-round pick in 2016.

“We have a different room right now, it’s a fresh start,” Fisher said. “Case was important to us, that we were able to get that done as well.”

The 27-year-old Fairley fills an opening in the defensive line rotation after the Rams released tackle Kendall Langford. He was limited to eight games due to injuries last season and the Lions declined a fifth-year option on the 13th overall pick in 2011 — one pick before the Rams selected two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Robert Quinn.

St. Louis already has two former first-rounders at defensive tackle, Defensive Rookie of the Year Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers.

“I’m just ready to add to this group,” Fairley said. “I don’t feel like I have anything to prove, it’s a new start for me.”

Fairley also visited with the Bengals. He’s shed weight to 280 pounds, 28 pounds lighter than listed on NFL.com, but planned on adding weight and muscle before offseason workouts begin next month.

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