Nate Solder hasn’t played since the 2019 season. The Giants offensive tackle opted out of the 2020 campaign due to coronavirus concerns.
This week, Nate Solder spoke to ESPN’s Jordan Raanan and said he plans to return to the field in 2021 “as long as the situation is right.” Solder opted out of this past season amid lingering concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s unclear, however, if the Giants will keep him on the team. He hasn’t played since 2019, is increasing in age, and possesses an expensive contract. Not to mention, he’s struggled on the field for the most part since the Giants signed him to a four-year deal in 2018.
Should Big Blue employ Solder for the 2021 campaign?
Why the Giants may keep Solder
Solder brings one thing that many of the team’s offensive tackles don’t: experience. The veteran would be entering his 10th season in the pros while both Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart will be taking part in their second NFL seasons in 2021. Amid the uncertainty regarding Cameron Fleming’s future (his one-year contract is expiring) and what Peart can truly bring to the field as a potential starter, Solder might be the Giants’ best in-house option at right tackle.
And that is indeed the position he’d likely be playing. He’s been a left tackle for the majority of his career, but moving Thomas away from Daniel Jones‘ blindside would hinder the young player’s development at the position the Giants wish for him to succeed at in the future.
Why the Giants may cut Solder
Well, as was previously mentioned, he’s dealt with a number of on-field struggles since coming over to East Rutherford. Per Pro Football Focus, he allowed seven and 11 sacks in 2018 and 2019, respectively. The latter season, he recorded a mediocre 64.9 PFF grade. He was one of the main issues within a below-average offensive line and a reason why the Giants addressed the tackle position in the opening round of last year’s draft.
Solder is also absurdly expensive and may continue to be throughout the remainder of his contract. His cap hits over the next two years are set to be $16.5 million and $18 million, while his dead cap hits will be $10.5 million and $4 million. This means if the Giants cut him, they would save $6 million and $14 million in 2021 and 2022, respectively — a beneficial move when you consider the limited cap space the organization currently carries (a little over $5 million).
The Giants, if anything, could restructure his contract. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, they’re expected to speak with Solder about that, but it’s unclear if he would agree to any changes.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) February 26, 2021
Cutting Solder, however, would then leave the Giants with a crucial decision at right tackle. Would they roll the dice with Peart and hope true improvement from year one to two shows? Re-sign Fleming to another cheap, short-term deal? Sign another veteran to a short-term deal?
Regardless of who may eventually occupy that spot, parting ways with Solder could indeed possess more positives than negatives.