When the New York Giants signed left tackle Nate Solder in 2018 to a four-year, $62 million deal, expectations were high. The deal made him the then highest-paid LT in the NFL, something fans were a bit hesitant about. And through the first two years of the deal, fans have every right to be disappointed in the play of the former first-round pick out of Colorado. After following up a mediocre first year in New York, in which he allowed 8.0 sacks, Solder saw an even greater dip in his play this past season. He gave up the most sacks on the team, with 12.5 in 16 games. But there are three reasons why the Giants shouldn’t cut their ties with Solder, and here’s why:
Why The New York Giants Shouldn’t Cut Nate Solder
The lack of replacement options
Fans have suggested cutting Solder since his struggles started in 2018, but very few of them have thought about how difficult it would be to replace him. The easiest thing to do would be to pursue a tackle in free agency, but the choices would be limited. The best LT available this offseason is the Colts’ Anthony Castonzo, who is supposed to command top-level money. The next best option is DJ Humphries, who has been speaking with the Cardinals about a contract extension for multiple months. In other words, free agency wouldn’t provide anyone better.
The next place the Giants could look is in the draft, but there’s one issue with this plan. The majority of starting left tackles in today’s NFL are drafted in the first round. Big Blue has way too many holes elsewhere to be spending the fourth overall pick on a left tackle. Plus, they already have a gaping hole at right tackle that needs to be dealt with. Attempting to find Solder’s replacement would be significantly more complicated than just keeping him.
The contract situation
When Solder signed his four-year, $62 million deal two years ago, many thought the team overpaid a bit. During his first seven years in the NFL, all of which were spent with New England, not once was he an all-pro or even a pro bowler. Yet the Giants paid him as if he was the game’s best LT. It was a mistake then, and it would not be smart trying to get out of it now.
His cap hit of $19.5 million is among the highest of all offensive linemen in 2020. Cutting him would leave the Giants with $13 million in dead money, and would only create $6.5 million in cap space. Financially speaking, cutting Solder would set the Giants back more than it would help them.
His relationship with Joe Judge
Prior to playing in New York, Solder spent all of his career in New England. He was never a premier tackle, but he was more than solid. In his seven seasons, only once did he allow more than 6.0 sacks. Four times, he allowed 4.0 sacks or fewer and in 2017, the year before he became a Giant, he gave up only 3.0 sacks, resulting in just 19 yards lost. In other words, it’s not like he never had any talent to begin with.
It’s possible new head coach Joe Judge will be able to rediscover some of that talent. While Judge did coach special teams in New England and didn’t spend too much time around the offensive line, Judge still saw Solder succeed for years. He might not be able to make him a top-five tackle, but he definitely will be able to get Solder back on track.
The concept of cutting Nate Solder wouldn’t help Big Blue in any way. All it would do is create another hole on the offensive line, lead to more dead money, and prevent the possibility of Judge fixing him. The Giants need to keep Solder in 2020, and quite possibly in 2021 as well.