The Giants might not be done with Nate Solder, after all.
There is growing sentiment that a deal can and will be worked out to keep the veteran offensive tackle on the roster. Solder would stay for a greatly reduced price, as he was set to count $16.5 million on the salary cap — a cost that is not sustainable for Solder to continue his career with the Giants.
Solder turns 33 next month. He opted out of the 2020 season, citing COVID-19 concerns, as his young son is undergoing cancer treatment and Solder himself is a cancer survivor. Andrew Thomas, the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, took Solder’s spot and started 15 of 16 games at left tackle.
If Solder returns, it will not be as Thomas’ replacement. Solder would likely compete for the right tackle job — second-year Matt Peart is an option here — and possibly serve as a swing tackle, providing experienced insurance on both sides of the line. Solder, though, has not played right tackle since his 2011 rookie year with the Patriots. Head coach Joe Judge has shown he is a believer in rotating his offensive linemen.
Highly paid veterans not playing at an extremely high level are an endangered species this year, with the NFL salary cap set at $182.5 million — way, way down from $198.2 million in 2020. On Wednesday, the Giants became cap compliant by shedding $12 million in cap space with the release of 31-year-old guard Kevin Zeitler.
Solder the same day Zeitler was released posted an article he wrote for “The Increase’’ in which he said “I’m in a place now where if I am offered another chance to play football, I’ll probably take it.’’ The “probably’’ caveat was most likely referring to uncertainty if the new financial terms required to keep Solder on the roster were going to be acceptable to him or too severe to move forward with the Giants.
With the opt-out, Solder forfeited $9.9 million in salary in 2020, although he did receive a roster bonus of $3 million — and was paid $350,000 as a high-risk opt out. Soldier acknowledged this when he wrote: “The amount of revenue I lost by not playing for a season was significant.’’
Solder will not come back unless he feels he is fairly compensated. He signed a four-year, $62 million contract, with $34.8 million in guaranteed money, and started all 16 games in 2018 and 2019. His play both seasons was not up to the standard he set with the Patriots the first seven years of his career.