Nick Fairley's future in the NFL is still undetermined.
What is certain is that he is no longer a member of the Saints. New Orleans cut the defensive tackle Monday with a non-football illness designation, ending his tenure with the team.
It is still unclear if the Saints will recoup the money paid to Fairley last offseason. Grievances have been filed by both parties over the guarantees in his contract after he was discovered to have a heart condition that prevented him from playing after signing a four-year, $28 million contract before last season.
The Saints had to make this move now because Fairley's $4.25 million base salary for next season would have become guaranteed on the third day of the 2018 waiver period, which began Monday. He also would have been due a $750,000 roster bonus in late March. New Orleans did not pay Fairley anything while he was on the non-football illness list, a decision entirely up to the team.
It is unclear how this transaction impacts the salary cap until the grievance settles. If Fairley wins outright, the Saints will carry $6 million in dead money in 2018. The Saints could gain at least $7 million in cap space if they win.
Fairley originally hooked on with the Saints as a free agent in 2016 and rehabilitated his career by recording 6½ sacks after a pair of lackluster seasons with Detroit and the Rams.
Fairley was diagnosed with an enlarged heart when he went through the NFL combine before being selected by the Lions but was forced to miss last season after doctors discovered a change in his condition last summer.
New Orleans filed a grievance with the NFL Management Council, likely contending that Fairley's physical was not completed when he signed his contract. The player and his representatives likely will argue that the deal was done as soon as pen hit paper.
There is no timeline for when the case will be settled. These cases are often heard depending on how quickly they need to be resolved. New Orleans likely would prefer to have the case settled before free agency.
At least one doctor told Fairley he should retire from football when he sought multiple opinions this offseason.