He’s a good Solder.
Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder agreed to the framework of a restructured contract Saturday, according to NFL Network, and is expected to rejoin the team after sitting out last season as a high-risk opt-out under COVID-19 protocols.
The Giants couldn’t afford to keep the 33-year-old Solder at his $16.5 million salary-cap charge, given the constraints on their budget heading into free agency and his uncertain role and performance level moving forward.
The specifics of Solder’s new deal are not known, but the intention was to lower the financials, so it would be about the same cost to keep around the veteran as to cut him. If the Giants cut Solder before June 1 or if he retired — the way things seemed to be heading before the last two weeks of internal discussions — the former $62 million free-agent splash would have cost $10.5 million against the cap and would have freed up just $6 million.
Solder allowed the third-most sacks (11) in the NFL in 2019, but admittedly was battling through injuries and a trying headspace as his son underwent in-season surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. Rookie first-round pick Andrew Thomas replaced Solder as the starting left tackle last season, and the Giants would be wise not to mess with Thomas’ development after he found a delayed late-season groove.
In that case, Solder will compete with Matt Peart — a third-round pick who made one start and played in other games off the bench as a rookie — at right tackle. The loser of the competition likely would become the swing tackle and cross off a free-agent need from the Giants’ long list.
Solder made 13 starts at right tackle for the Patriots as a rookie in 2011, but moved to the other side of the line for the next 114 starts of his career. He was part of the Giants’ virtual OTAs last season, but his relationship with coach Joe Judge dates to their shared years in New England, and Judge places a high priority on intimate knowledge of the character entering the locker room.