post-june 1 cap casualties giants jets
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Veteran Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder didn’t play this past year, having opted out due to coronavirus concerns.

Maybe Nate Solder ends up being the Giants‘ 2021 answer at right tackle after all.

According to The Athletic’s Dan Duggan, there’s ‘optimism’ surrounding the idea of Solder playing for the Giants next season. The 32-year-old hasn’t played since 2019.

Last summer, the veteran offensive tackle made the decision to opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. In his absence, the Giants fielded then-rookie Andrew Thomas at left tackle as well as free-agent pickup Cameron Fleming at the right tackle spot.

Cutting Solder would be a financially beneficial move for the organization. With limited cap space and the need to re-sign Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson, the Giants could cut Solder and save $6 million in cap space. The Giants additionally need space if they have any plans to sign a big-name free-agent offensive weapon such as wide receiver Kenny Golladay, who figures to receive around $17 million per year in a new deal.

Solder’s 2021 cap hit is set to be $16.5 million while his dead cap charge would be $10.5 million. Simply speaking, that significant of a cap hit for a guy who hasn’t played in two years is just too much.

Thus, bringing Solder back would lead to the Giants restructuring his expensive contract — he’s not as valuable as he once was given he’s entering his age-33 season and struggled through his first two years in New York. He allowed 11 sacks during the 2019 season, per Pro Football Focus (third-most among tackles measured).

If Solder is indeed returning, the most logical scenario would be to field him on the right side of the line. He’s been a left tackle for much of his career but it wouldn’t be in the team’s best interest to move Thomas off the position it drafted him to play for the long term. The line would likely include those two guys at their respective tackle positions with Nick Gates manning the center position and Shane Lemieux continuing at one of the guard spots.

The other guard spot is currently vacant after the Giants released Kevin Zeitler on Wednesday. Zeitler was to carry a $14.5 million cap hit in 2021 but his contract couldn’t be restructured like Solder’s can — Zeitler had just one year left on his deal while Solder has two.

Regardless, this move shouldn’t be made. The Giants should do what’s best both financially and for the state of the offensive unit. Solder is aging and hasn’t impressed in quite some time — returning him would contradict the goal of moving in the right direction as a franchise.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.