The New York Giants have a salary problem at left tackle

Alexander Wilson
New York Giants, Nate Solder
Sep 30, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder on the field before facing the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Danielle Parhizkaran/NorthJersey.com via USA TODAY NETWORK

Cap space is going to be an issue for every team in the NFL next season, and with the New York Giants trying to rebuild their roster and sign new players to bolster specific units, they’re going to have to work around big challenges.

The expectation is that the cap could drop as much as $20 million in 2021, which would significantly hurt the Giants’ ability to go out and sign new players. Luckily for them, they have a bevy of rookies at essential positions that will allow them some flexibility.

There are a number of players who they will move on from next year, and one of them will likely be left tackle Nate Solder. Solder signed a four-year, $62 million deal with the Giants in 2018. After opting out this season due to COVID-19, his contract gets pushed an extra season. However, the Giants have a way out that won’t count too much against their dead money.

Essentially, if the Giants cut Solder before June 1 of next year, he will count $10.5 million in dead cap, but if they cut him after June 1, he will count to $6.5 million. We can expect them to do the latter of the two options, saving an additional $4 million and allocating that toward a position of need.

Some believe they might go out and target a receiver like Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay in free agency, but they also have needs a cornerback and linebacker.

I would be remiss not to mention pass rusher, as they currently have Kyler Fackrell on a one-year deal and are lacking a true elite player at the position.

Letting Nate go depends on their confidence in rookie tackle Andrew Thomas. He has struggled during the 2020 campaign but has taken steps forward in recent weeks.

Can the New York Giants feel confident in Andrew Thomas at left tackle?

The first seven weeks of the 2020 season for Thomas are best described by one word, “awful.” His pass blocking up until week 8 against Tampa reached a high grade of 58.2. Since then, he has reached 72.2 and has become a far more stable option on Daniel Jones’s blindside.

Thomas’ run blocking has become his best trait, similar to his strengths at Georgia. After starting the year on the bad side in the run game, he took a significant step forward in week five against Dallas and hasn’t let go of his forward progress since.

With his last two weeks showing extreme growth, the rest of the campaign will heavily be focused on Thomas and if he has what it takes to cement the left tackle position. That will make Solder expendable and allow the Giants to save a ton of money for free agency next year.