The biggest NFL free agent signing this offseason came when the New York Giants made Nate Solder the highest paid left tackle in NFL history.
The New York Giants were in desperate need of upgrading the left tackle position, to say the least. After a decent rookie season, Ereck Flowers struggled mightily the following two seasons and slowly but surely became the scapegoat for the Giants offensive woes.
So when Nate Solder hit the free agent market, general manager Dave Gettleman acted quickly. He acquired the best tackle in free agency by signing Solder to a record-breaking four-year, $62 million dollar contract.
Solder will not only protect Eli Manning’s blindside and maximize whatever time Manning has left, but he’ll also be a mentor to guard Will Hernandez who will play alongside the veteran while paving holes for rookie phenom Saquon Barkley.
But perhaps the biggest asset Solder brings to the Giants is his winning attitude and championship experience.
In Solder’s seven years with the New England Patriots, the Patriots have qualified for at least the AFC Conference Championship game every year. He even played against the Giants in Super Bowl 46.
But since the organization’s latest super victory, the Giants have fallen on hard times. They’ve made the playoffs only once, have accumulated a record of 42-54, and have parted ways with head coaches Tom Coughlin and Ben McAdoo.
So to say that the Giants were in need of someone who comes from a winning culture would be a huge understatement.
Head coach Pat Shurmur spoke about what Solder brings to the team.
“He’s a true professional. We talk often about leadership and I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, you don’t have to be anything extraordinary and you certainly don’t have to be the loudest guy in the room. Sometimes the guy that doesn’t say as much leads better than the guy that talks a lot, and Nate is a very steady force. We all know what he’s done as a player. As you get to know him, you get to appreciate what a tremendous person he is and I think all that will help us as we move forward.”
His veteran leadership has already been on display on the final day of minicamp.
Following a scuffle between Hernandez and Damon Harrison that saw Harrison swing Hernandez’s helmet at him, Solder spoke following practice and emphasized that the Giants need to put the scuffle behind them.
“We just have to focus on getting better, we have to play better football, we have to be a strong unit on the offensive line and we have to do what we can control. Those things are battles, they happen, emotions rise and you work through it and move on.”
— Jason Leach (@JasonKLeach) June 14, 2018
Solder has also spoken out in his support of Flowers as he makes the transition from left tackle to the power right side.
“I have been very impressed with his character and his humility – work ethic, everything.”
Flowers also spoke about what it’s like having Solder as a teammate.
“It has been cool. We’ve been going every day and watching film, talking about what we see and just trying to go out there and perform.”
The start of the NFL season is over two months away, but the acquisition of Solder is already paying dividends. He will play a pivotal role in the Giants rebounding from a 3-13 season.
As we stated Solder has never missed the playoffs in his seven-year career, and he has no intentions of missing the playoffs now. On the last day of minicamp, he was asked if the Giants can be competitive this season.
“This is the NFL, every team is competitive, every team is really good. This team is going to come down to how we perform when the lights are on and we are really getting after it – as with every team.”