Will the aging Nate Solder start at right tackle next year? Is there legitimate confidence in Matthew Peart? Who really knows?
The state of the Giants offensive line now and in the near-future has undergone some twists and turns in recent days. There’s a vacancy at the right guard position amid the release of Kevin Zeitler (which to some was expected). But now, all of a sudden, Nate Solder may end up being the starting right tackle amid the news he could be returning in 2021.
Per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, there’s a possibility of Solder playing for the Giants after opting out of the 2020 season and the organization restructuring his current four-year contract (which has two years left on it).
There is optimism that OL Nate Solder will return to play for the Giants, per source. Sides are still working out the terms. Solder was due to have a $16.5M cap hit in 2021.
— Dan Duggan (@DDuggan21) March 11, 2021
This line was a unit that improved over the course of last year with then-rookies Andrew Thomas (left tackle) and Shane Lemieux (left guard) in the mix, along with an impressive first-year center in Nick Gates. The group was seemingly on the right track, an important development when you consider Daniel Jones’ need for on-field assistance.
But now, fans aren’t so sure. The recent news regarding Solder and the fate of the right tackle spot seems to contradict Dave Gettleman‘s apparent goal for the entire unit.
Earlier this week, Gettleman held a press conference with the media and provided his thoughts on the two tackle positions. The veteran general manager, who’s entering his fourth full season in that position with the organization, noted he would be confident moving forward with Thomas and Matthew Peart in the two tackle roles. The Giants drafted either last year.
Thought it was real interesting that Dave Gettleman talked about a young offensive line and specifically said he would be comfortable starting Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart at tackle this season. Seemed to indicate this might be the plan, which in turn would exclude Nate Solder.
— Jordan Raanan (@JordanRaanan) March 9, 2021
Thomas will certainly be on the left side after starting there for much of the 2020 season. Peart still needs to develop, but if the team feels confident enough to field him at right tackle, then that could work. With Cameron Fleming’s expiring contract and, at the time of the press conference, Solder’s unknown situation, Peart was likely the best in-house option for that position.
So it looked as if Gettleman wanted to go younger with his offensive line — what should be done.
The Wednesday release of Kevin Zeitler supported that ideology and was the right move from a financial standpoint — Zeitler is aging and was to carry a cap hit of $14.5 million next season. Cutting him saved the Giants $12 million during an offseason in which they need to re-sign Leonard Williams and Dalvin Tomlinson.
However, the latest news on Solder doesn’t.
Why would Gettleman express confidence in his young tackles and then even consider bringing Solder back? The veteran is entering his age-33 season and allowed 11 sacks in 2019 (third-most among tackles measured via Pro Football Focus). Not to mention, parting ways with him would save the Giants $6 million in cap space — a crucial amount when you take into account a low cap of $182.5 million.
Because of all this, the left side and middle of the line are basically set with Thomas, Lemieux, and Gates. While the Giants will find someone to occupy the right guard spot (they possess a number of options), the right tackle position is currently a mystery.
Gettleman’s words are pointing towards Peart possibly being the guy. Gettleman’s potential actions, however, point towards Solder, in spite of the fact there’s little-to-no benefit to employing him at this point.
Time will tell the ultimate fate of Big Blue’s right tackle spot. But at the moment, the current state of the position brings about question marks and is further proof that even Gettleman may not know what his plan is.