- Michael Rothstein, ESPN Staff Writer
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Now, it appears the starter next to him, defensive tackle Nick Fairley, also could be entering free agency after next season.
Lions general manager Martin Mayhew told reporters at the NFL owners' meetings in Orlando, Fla., on Monday that the team would not be picking up its 2015 contract option on Fairley, the 13th overall pick in the 2011 draft.
Mayhew told reporters that this is part of a motivational tool for Fairley to play well in 2014.
"It's an opportunity for him to go out and perform at his best this offseason, perform his best during the season, and hopefully it helps him become the best player he can possibly be," Mayhew said, according to mlive.com.
"I have to ask myself, 'Is he a $5.5 million player right now?' There are some performances where he is, and some performances where he's not. I think it's going to be an incentive for him to have an outstanding season, and that's what I want more than anything else."
Fairley has played in 39 games for the Lions, making 86 tackles and registering 12.5 sacks. He has also forced and recovered three fumbles.
Consistent play has always been an issue for Fairley, who has alternated between being a game-changing player and someone who struggled to make plays.