The organization made that clear when it decided not to pick up the defensive tackle's fifth-year option this offseason. Lions general manager Martin Mayhew was up front with Fairley -- telling the former first-round pick that his fluctuating weight and inconsistent play had given the team pause.
Fairley took that bad news and has used it for motivation.
"I kind of said it's a good thing, kind of," Fairley said at Lions OTAs, via the Detroit Free Press. "It kind of will put me into a new contract earlier than (other) guys coming out in my draft. They're picking up guys' fifth-year option, that gets me into a new contract. That's the way I look at it."
Fairley rededicated himself in the offseason, staying on a workout plan that allowed him to drop his weight to 295, or 27 pounds lighter than where he finished last season.
"I'd say I'm back to my Auburn ways," he said, referring to his college days. "I feel like back when I was at that national championship, and you know how that year went so looking to repeat it."
It appears the Lions' motivation plan has worked. It could work out for Fairley, as well. If he can take his game to another level in 2014, he'll be in line for a payday that could dwarf the $5.5 million he would've earned if Detroit picked up his option.