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Patriots Drop Out of the Nick Fairley Sweepstakes; DT Expected to Sign With Saints

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New England won't pursue the defensive tackle, who is expected to sign with the Saints.

When the New England Patriots lost unrestricted free agent defensive tackle Akiem Hicks to the Chicago Bears, it left a hole in the team's defensive tackle rotation. To fill it, the Patriots also explored outside options. Among them, former first round draft pick Nick Fairley.

Unfortunately for New England, it seems as if the team is no longer in the race for Fairley's services (according to Ian Rapoport):

#Patriots will be out on DT Nick Fairley, an indication he's expected to sign with #Saints. Should be a huge addition to their defense.

The 28-year old was originally drafted by the Detroit Lions in the first round of the 2011 draft. After four seasons in Detroit, Fairley signed a one-year deal with the then-St. Louis Rams. He ended his lone year with the Rams on injured reserve and hit the open market in early March.

With Fairley expected to sign in New Orleans, the Patriots need to look elsewhere to replace Hicks. Maybe the solution is already on the roster -- Chris Jones or newly-signed Frank Kearse -- or maybe the position will be addressed in next month's draft.

Fact is: New England has a strong top-3 at defensive tackle, with Malcom Brown, Dominique Easley and Alan Branch, but probably still needs to find another body for depth purposes. How, remains to be seen.