With Nate Solder opting out of the 2020 season, Andrew Thomas may play the blindside tackle spot. Therefore, who would man the right side?
On Wednesday, New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder made the decision to opt-out of the 2020 NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s an absolutely respected move considering his son’s current battle with cancer.
It’s now very much possible that rookie offensive tackle Andrew Thomas will man Daniel Jones’ blindside during his inaugural campaign in the NFL. People will question his ability to step into that role right away after experiencing an unusual offseason, but deciding who plays the right tackle position may become an even more crucial conversation.
Well, the Giants certainly have a few legitimate options if Thomas does play the left side, both within the organization as well as in free agency.
Matt Peart – The Giants chose Matt Peart in the third round of this year’s NFL Draft with the hopes of one day developing him into a starting right tackle. When Solder was still in the mix, there was little-to-no chance of Peart stepping into a starting role right away, as he’s very much a raw talent who will require assistance over these next few seasons.
But with everything that’s now transpired, there’s a chance the Giants could ask way more of Peart than they originally intended to when they selected him in April. Don’t expect it to all be initially pretty if Thomas and Peart respectively man the left and right tackle spots. Nonetheless, it could be beneficial for the latter individual to receive enough on-field experience in order to build the necessary chemistry among his offensive line counterparts.
Nick Gates – The unproven yet potential-carrying Nick Gates will absolutely be in the mix for this spot during the training camp period. Big Blue seems to love him — the team plans to work him at center as well — and he has experience on the exterior of the offensive line. Last year, he took part in 203 snaps at this very position.
Like Peart, Gates will need to put in a ton of work and he may not even end up as talented as the former UConn Husky. Regardless, he still possesses an edge given Peart’s unfamiliarity with a pro-level system.
Cam Fleming – This situation is why a move like acquiring Cam Fleming in free agency is extremely important. Depth is key for any position in football, as things could change at the snap of a finger.
Fleming has more experience than the aforementioned two options, and it’s not even close in those regards. He’s started in 26 total games over the course of his career for two different teams — the New England Patriots and Dallas Cowboys.
Fleming thus carries experience working for Giants offensive coordinator Jason Garrett and offensive line coach Marc Colombo. The three spent time alongside each other during Cam’s two-year tenure in Dallas. And for what it’s worth, Fleming started Super Bowl 52 for the Patriots with Joe Judge on the sidelines as their special teams coordinator, so the new Giants head coach absolutely knows what he could bring to the table.
Don’t be surprised if the veteran gives Peart and Gates a run for their money when it comes to this upcoming position battle. The experience and knowledge are there, he’ll just need to put it all together once practices commence.
Jordan Mills – Jordan Mills is one of the younger options within an offensive tackle market that’s seemingly filled with more seasoned individuals. Entering his age-30 season, the Giants could use some of their now-free cap space to bring in the former Bear, Bill, and Cardinal on a cheap deal to compete for the job.
The prior experience is existent as well. Mills started 53 games during his tenure in Buffalo along with 29 matchups while in Chicago.
Marshall Newhouse – Giants fans, I understand if you’re laughing at me for this. It’s a stretch and would ultimately be the last possible option for this specific role, but there would be a few positives to signing Marshall Newhouse.
Sure, he’s entering his age-32 season, but even if he didn’t win the job, he could still provide noteworthy mentorship to younger players like Peart, Thomas, Gates, and even rookie guard Shane Lemieux if you want to include the interior unit of the offensive line in the mix.
Newhouse also possesses familiarity with the organization and the way things are run at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center. He started 20 games for the Giants from 2015-16 and additionally flexed his versatility en route to performing at a multitude of positions. Furthermore, Judge knows what Newhouse could provide to this ballclub, as the veteran lineman started nine games for the Patriots in 2019.