The New York Giants will implement a position battle at both tackle spots in 2020, after the drafting of Andrew Thomas with the fourth overall pick in the NFL draft. Thomas represents an upgrade over Solder, who struggled to hold his own last year on a tumultuous offensive line.
Solder was downright bad, allowing the 3rd most sacks in the NFL with 11, per PFF. Only Darryl Williams and rookie Kaleb McGary allowed more.
Ultimately, Solder’s performance last year could have cost him an opportunity to start in the future. Adding Thomas to the unit should offer the Giants an improvement, but he hasn’t locked down the position just yet as general manager Dave Gettleman is keen on letting the tackle spots fight it out. At 32 years old, Solder was far worse than 11 sacks allowed in 2019; he consistently gave up quarterback hits and pressures, putting rookie quarterback Daniel Jones in danger frequently.
“Nate had a rough year last year,” Gettleman said. “Nobody is denying (that), and certainly he is not. I made the statement to people after we signed him in 2018 and after the 2018 season no one was talking about Nate Solder. He had a tough year.”
The Giants simply cannot stand bag by and watch Jones turn into Eli Manning after years of punishment and habitual pressure. Jones suffered from a fumbling issue in his rookie campaign, losing 18 balls and failing to recover 11 of them. A great deal of these fumbles were due to Solder giving up pressure and forcing Jones to make unnecessary mover, or he held onto the ball too long in the pocket.
Solder, who will be paid $16 million in 2020, cannot be allowed to take over the starting spot without competition. Despite his price tag, the Giants must stick with their guns and let the best man win.
It is interesting to think about how the Giants’ entire draft plans change if Solder has a quality 2019 season. Inevitably, they might have passed on Thomas for a pass-rusher or skill player instead. However, that is not the case, and if the Giants cut him after 2020, they will have $14 million in cap space to allocate elsewhere.
Gettleman also landed Matt Peart in the third round out of the University of Connecticut, and the expectation is for him to take over at right tackle eventually. Reports have indicated that he could compete at left tackle with Andrew Thomas, given his ideal size for the position — having two tackles on rookie deals would be fantastic for the financial security of the Giants moving forward.