New York Giants could roll into 2021 with an unaltered offensive line

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants are preparing for the 2021 NFL Draft, which takes place in just two weeks. The Giants did a tremendous job this offseason addressing their needs in free agency. New York signed wide receiver Kenny Golladay and tight end Kyle Rudolph to give Daniel Jones the weapons he needed. They also took a risk and signed cornerback Adoree’ Jackson to a big deal to solidify their secondary.

There is one area on offense, though, that went mostly untouched through free agency. Many consider the Giants’ offensive line to be the biggest weakness on the team’s roster. But, looking ahead to the draft and regular season, it appears that the Giants might not feel the same way. It seems like the Giants are confident in their young offensive linemen and expect them to thrive in expanded roles this season.

What will the 2021 offensive line look like?

The tackles

General manager Dave Gettleman and the Giants are confident in what they have at right tackle. New York went offensive line in the first, third, and fifth rounds of the NFL Draft last year. In round three, the Giants selected offensive tackle, Matt Peart, out of UConn. The rookie tackle looked like a solid contributor in his rookie season when he saw the field, albeit in a limited number of snaps. But Gettleman gave his public show of support to Matt Peart, saying he is confident that Peart can start at right tackle this season.

Additionally, the Giants are getting Nate Solder back on a reworked deal after he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. Solder could be a key addition to the lineup, whether he ends up playing right tackle or kicking out to swing tackle. Regardless, the Giants are comfortable with what they have on the right side of the line and are unlikely to reach on a tackle at any point in the draft.

Andrew Thomas was the fourth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft for the Giants. He had his ups and downs in his rookie season, but Thomas flashed enough and looks like he will turn into a quality long-term starter to protect Daniel Jones’s blindside.

The interior

On the interior of the offensive line, the Giants have some major question marks. New York cut their best lineman, right guard Kevin Zeitler, as a cap casualty. Now they are left with some questionable starters.

Shane Lemieux started the final 8 games at right guard for the Giants last season. He showed some potential as a decent run blocker but struggled severely in pass protection. There is a lot to like about Lemieux’s game and demeanor, and the Giants seem to be very high on Lemieux, but New York needs him to take a huge step forward to feel comfortable with him as a starting guard in 2021.

Assuming Lemieux continues as the starter at left guard, who will be the new man at right guard? The Giants potentially have that guy on their roster already. Through the first eight games of the 2020 season, Will Hernandez started at left guard, as he had the past two years as well. But Hernandez struggled a lot in the first half of the season and ultimately lost his starting position.

Could the Giants plug Hernandez back in the starting lineup this season? It is very possible that they go that route. Hernandez is a former second-round pick that showed a lot of promise as a rookie. But the Giants could potentially address the interior of their offensive line in the second round of the NFL Draft.

One position on the interior where continuity is expected is at center. Nick Gates impressed the fan base and the coaching staff in 2020. Last season was Gates’s first year playing center. Gates showed a lot of growth as the season went on and looks to be a quality starter going forward.

Why fans think the line is in need of an upgrade

The Giants seem pretty confident in this young group of guys that it has on the offensive line. But fans are skeptical. The Giants’ pass-block win rate in 2020, according to ESPN, ranked dead-last in the NFL at 46%. Their run-block win-rate ranked 18th at 70%, which is about average or slightly below. So while the Giants did upgrade Daniel Jones’s weapons in free agency, fans feel like they still desperately need to fix the offensive line in front of him. It will be intriguing to see whether or not the Giants address the offensive line in the 2021 NFL Draft at the end of this month.

New York Giants: The Athletic names Nate Solder decade’s worst addition

New York Giants, Nate Solder

Sometimes free agents work out in the NFL. And sometimes they don’t. The New York Giants have had a fair share of hits and misses during the time they’ve spent rebuilding during the past decade. But the one that takes the title of biggest miss might just be current tackle Nate Solder.

Solder isn’t the most popular player with the fans and The Athletic agreed with their sentiment when making a list of each team’s worst free agent additions of the decade. The list named Solder as the decade’s worst free agent for the Giants, owing to his massive deal followed by on the field struggles.

Dan Duggan’s take on Solder

Wide receiver Golden Tate made a strong case for this “honor,” with a four-game PED suspension and a benching for selfish behavior in two seasons after signing a four-year, $37.5 million contract in 2019. But it’s impossible to top the Solder disappointment considering the Giants made him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they gave him a four-year, $62 million contract. Solder wasn’t very good in 2018 and then was abysmal in 2019. He opted out last season and now is back after taking a steep pay cut to just $3 million to serve as a swing tackle. Solder has been the poster boy for the Giants’ prolonged offensive line woes.

Things aren’t looking as bad as they were before, however. The Giants were fortunately able to bring Solder to the negotiating table and cut down on his deal, freeing up cap space to spend on other players while allowing Solder to play this season without getting cut.

Solder will come into the season without much in the way of guaranteed status, though. Poor performance in his last season with the Giants followed by missing an entire year has basically taken him out of the rotation entirely, and he’ll have to earn his way back in.

Just how much playing time Solder ends up with remains to be seen. But even if this season isn’t as bad as the previous ones, it’s unlikely to reverse the sentiment that the whole move to bring Solder in as a free agent was a mistake.

Who should start at right tackle for the New York Giants in 2021?

New York Giants, Matt Peart

The New York Giants appear to have a position battle brewing on their offensive line. New York has its projected left tackle of the future in first-round pick Andrew Thomas. But on the other side of the line, the Giants have a giant question mark at right tackle.

In 2020, that position was manned by stop-gap journeyman Cam Fleming. Rotated into that position was also rookie offensive tackle Matt Peart out of UConn. With Fleming no longer on the Giants’ roster, many have assumed that Peart will take over the starting job.

But the Giants have a familiar face returning to the lineup as a potential starting offensive tackle. Nate Solder opted out of the 2020 season but will return in 2021 and compete at right tackle along with Matt Peart. It will likely come down to a camp battle between Peart and Solder. But the possibility remains that New York adds another right tackle candidate to the mix in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Matt Peart

The New York Giants selected Matt Peart in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Peart saw limited playing time in his rookie season, playing just 15% of the Giants’ offensive snaps (150 snaps). But Matt Peart looked good during his time on the field with the Giants.

Matt Peart finished the 2020 season with a respectable 69.7 overall Pro Football Focus grade. He allowed only 2 sacks on the year and recorded an elite performance in Week 6 against Washington (89.7 PFF grade). Peart also surrendered 0 pressures in the Giants’ second matchup with the Washington Football Team.

Matt Peart flashed a lot of potential as a rookie. Albeit, he did not see the field that much. But when he was on the field, Peart’s play was impressive. Dave Gettleman also stated that he feels comfortable going into 2021 with Matt Peart as the starting right tackle. If Matt Peart can build on his rookie season with more playing time in 2021, he could solidify himself as a long-term starter at right tackle for the Giants.

Nate Solder

Veteran offensive tackle Nate Solder has not played right tackle since his rookie season in 2011. In 2012, Solder made the switch to the left side of the line and never turned back. In 2018, the Giants paid him a historically large contract to be their starting left tackle. Solder never lived up to that contract, opted out in 2020, and is now looking to play a new role with the Giants in 2021.

Nate Solder will compete for the right tackle job this season. His contract numbers have been reduced significantly this offseason and the Giants want to see him remain with the team in an undetermined role. Solder could potentially win that right tackle job. But it is possible that he gets pegged into the role of a swing tackle.

Of course, the Giants could add a new offensive tackle to their roster before the season begins. The 2021 NFL Draft will take place at the end of this month and New York could land themselves a new right tackle to add to the competition. It will be interesting to see how the right tackle position shapes out for the New York Giants in 2021.

New York Giants rework OT Nate Solder’s deal, clear cap space

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have made another move to clear some salary-cap space ahead of the 2021 new league year. The Giants have officially reworked veteran offensive tackle Nate Solder’s contract, per Ian Rapoport. Solder will officially return in an unspecified role in 2021. The move to rework Solder’s contract has cleared salary cap space.

This move comes as no surprise. The Giants reportedly wanted to bring back Nate Solder and Solder reportedly wanted to be back with the Giants. But there was no way New York could bring Solder back at his original cap hit of $16.5 million. This is not the first move the Giants have made on the offensive line to clear cap space.

Earlier this week, the Giants cut offensive guard Kevin Zeitler to clear almost $10 million in cap space. Zeitler was the Giants’ best starting offensive lineman in 2020. His release shows how difficult of a salary cap position the Giants are in right now. The Giants placed the franchise tag on Leonard Williams which will cost them around $19-21 million in cap space. New York has to get their salary total down before the start of the New League Year on Wednesday.

The Giants have made a plethora of roster moves to free up cap space. David Mayo, Cody Core, Kevin Zeitler, and Golden Tate are the four cap casualties so far. Levine Toiliolo, CJ Board, and now Nate Solder have had their deals reworked to free up cap space but keep the players on the roster.

Nate Solder is unlikely to return as the starting left tackle in 2021. Andrew Thomas is entering his second season and should stay in that role. Solder could potentially compete for the starting right tackle position with second-year tackle Matt Peart. Matt Peart showed promise in his 2020 rookie season and general manager Dave Gettleman expressed confidence in Peart as a starter going forward. It seems likely that Solder’s role will be as a swing tackle or depth piece in 2021. His reworked contract should reflect that.

The details of the reworked contract have yet to be revealed, but this post will be updated once those numbers are reported.

Report: ‘optimism’ that New York Giants will bring back Nate Solder for 2021 season

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants recently cut starting right guard Kevin Zeitler, saving $12 million against the cap. As they try to fit Leonard Williams under the cap after hitting him with the franchise tag, it only makes sense to begin shedding dead weight.

However, the Giants still have a few pieces they can release to clear more money, and one of them is OL Nate Solder. Solder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19, as his son has been dealing with cancer for multiple years. Being the bigger man, he chose his family over football, a commendable choice but one that put the Giants in a tough position this off-season.

Dan Duggan of The Athletic reports that there’s optimism Solder will return to the team in 2021, with the expectation that he will make the transition to right tackle, a position he hasn’t played in over a decade.

The New York Giants are facing more problems:

Unfortunately, the Giants have created more problems in the trenches, and while their defensive line seems to be fine for the time being, quarterback Daniel Jones may be running for his life once again next season. With a ton of cap space in 2022, restructuring a few deals and pushing the money to next season might be in their best interest, but it doesn’t seem as if general manager Dave Gettleman is a fan of restructuring. As he stated in his most recent press conference, he desires to keep contracts flat, with an average salary allocation per season, instead of spreading it out and back-loading contracts, which can hurt down the line.

Theoretically, Gettleman’s argument makes sense, but with the cap dropping and methodology changing in the modern-day NFL, it’s either adapt or die. The Giants are not showing to be very modernized in their approach, which could end up biting them in the butt.

New York Giants want to restructure Nate Solder’s deal this season

New York Giants, Will Hernandez, Nate Solder

New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder has one of the worst contracts in the NFL. The Giants seemingly gave him this big payday right before Solder would suffer a drop off in performance after leaving New England, and once again, it looks like the Patriots organization moved on from a player just in time to avoid suffering the effects of that fall. The Giants, on the other hand, aren’t so lucky due to signing Solder to a deal worth $62 million.

Understandably, it looks like the Giants want to backtrack on that deal. According to Ian Rapoport, the organization wants to restructure the large deal to more favorable terms.

It’s looking so far like Solder is going to play in 2020 – previously, Solder had been ambiguous in public statements and hadn’t ruled out the possibility of retirement. Solder’s decision will come after sitting out the 2020 season entirely after choosing to opt out beforehand.

The Giants can’t just cut Solder without taking up $10.5 million in dead cap money, so they have an incentive to restructure the deal. But of course, that agreement won’t be reached without both sides finding acceptable terms. It’s easy to imagine Solder wanting to stick with the current deal. After all, this is likely his last contract and Solder won’t get a big deal like this again during his career.

However, on the other hand, Solder wasn’t very competitive when it comes to living up to that deal and it’s still not out of the question for the Giants to just cut him if they can’t make the restructuring happen.

How should the New York Giants approach Nate Solder this offseason?

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants are preparing to deal with offensive tackle Nate Solder this off-season, especially since he’s projected to count $16.5 million against the cap if retained for the 2021 season. They were murmurs that Solder could retire after opting out of the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19, but he has indicated otherwise, and playing in 2021 seems to be in his interest.

According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, Giants’ OT Nate Solder intends to play in 2021, given the situation is right.

The Giants are going to have to be creative with Solder, if not release him to save money. If he intends to play next season, the Giants could theoretically retain him and shift him to right tackle, where they have a massive gap. They did sign Cam Fleming last off-season to a one-year, $4 million deal, but he is currently a free agent, and it is possible Big Blue moves on.

Fleming had an inconsistent season but more or less held down the right tackle spot without giving up an absurd amount of pressure. According to PFF, Fleming did allow six sacks and 35 pressures, making him one of the worst tackles in the NFL (a bit contradictory, but it could’ve been worse). With that being said, the Giants have third-round pick Matt Peart waiting in the wings — COVID-19 disrupted his season and development. At this point, I think moving on from Fleming is in their best interest, as he’s an inadequate pass blocker but is a decent run blocker.

Solder might be a better fit at RT, having played the position in his rookie year. He finished the season with a 57.6 overall pass-blocking grade and 79.8 run-blocking grade. Clearly, this indicates he’s a better run blocker, but taking an entire season off likely won’t bode well for the veteran.

Nonetheless, the Giants don’t have many options at right tackle and need to find a solution quickly. Whether it be retaining Fleming for one more season and developing Peart, or moving Solder over, his cap hit must be decreased exponentially.

If the Giants do elect to release him, he would only save $6 million pre-June 1, but if they wait until post-June 1, he will save the team 10 million, given them a bit more flexibility to retain some of their players and allocate towards a wide receiver position. My educated guess is that they will cut solar post-June 1 and utilize his money on a stopgap.

The New York Giants could look for an alternative:

One player that stands out is Daryl Williams, who was superb for the Buffalo Bills last season. At 29 years old, the Giants could upgrade the RT spot with Solder’s money and utilize Peart as a developmental piece who can supplement both sides. This is an intriguing idea that might deserve a bit more attention.

Considering Williams sign a one-year, $2.25 million deal with Buffalo, the expectation is that he won’t be expensive. He was a Dave Gettleman draft pick, after all, so the connection is there for the Giants if they want to explore the idea of signing him.

New York Giants: Nate Solder deal named as top contract Giants wish they could get rid of

New York Giants, Will Hernandez, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have made some good free agent decisions and some bad ones over the past few years, but one of the ones that they’ll want to take back is the deal to bring in Nate Solder. It seems like the Patriots moved on from Solder at the right time because his play declined as soon as he joined the Giants. The franchise ended up drafting Andrew Thomas to fill Solder’s position, despite the large contract they had only very recently given the former Patriots tackle.

Now, the Giants are still stuck with their decision and Solder may very well still be a part of the team next season – even if almost no fans were happy with his performance for the one year that he did play with the Giants.

The worst contract on the New York Giants

It’s looking like Solder may retire, but if he doesn’t, he’ll have the second largest cap hit for the Giants in 2021. According to Bleacher Report and one of their latest lists, Solder is also the one contract the Giants wish they could make disappear.

When the Giants signed Solder, he was supposed to become the foundation for an improved line in New York. Instead, the Giants got a turnstile. In 1,011 snaps for the Giants in 2019, Solder surrendered a whopping 11 sacks and may have been the worst blindside protector in the league. His second season in New York in 2020 was a wash, as Solder opted out due to safety concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

There has been some speculation that Solder could retire, but as Cole Claybourn reported for Sports Spectrum, Solder appeared to indicate that he’s leaning toward playing in 2021.

Solder has said that he’ll probably play if he has the opportunity, and that he can mentally and physically handle it.

It’s unclear where Solder will fit into things now that Andrew Thomas has taken over his spot. A move to right tackle wasn’t out of the question during last season, but we didn’t see how that panned out as Solder ended up missing the season due to opting out.

Either way, we’ll likely end up with an answer later in the offseason as we move towards the draft and offseason activities.

New York Giants: Dan Duggan predicts retirement for OT Nate Solder

New York Giants, Nate Solder

The New York Giants have some offseason choices to make, and what to do with Nate Solder is one of them. The former Patriots tackle had a very underwhelming first season before sitting out his second season with the franchise entirely. If he comes back for a third year as a Giant, he might find it far tougher to secure and hold onto a spot in the lineup. But Solder coming back is far from guaranteed.

Solder has been able to relax and enjoy family life over the course of the season he sat out, and that might play into a decision to walk away from the game. Dan Duggan, of The Athletic, believes that’s the likely outcome.

Solder turns 33 in May. He has played in 130 games, won two Super Bowl rings and earned over $70 million. He has three young children, including 5-year-old Hudson, who is battling cancer, and has ambitions that extend far beyond football.

With all of that in mind, my gut feeling is that Solder will retire.

There’s also a chance the Giants could cut Solder whether or not he retires. But Duggan also mentioned that the cap savings the Giants would get from such a cut wouldn’t be available until the premier free agents are off the market.

As such, it’s unclear what would happen if Solder doesn’t walk away on his own. But considering how he’s already achieved everything and has an uphill battle if he does come back, that retirement route doesn’t look all that unlikely.

The Giants drafted Andrew Thomas to play tackle, after all. It may be time to hand over the reigns completely to the second year player and move on from Solder at the position.

New York Giants: Nate Solder sounds like he’s mulling retirement

New York Giants, Nate Solder

Nobody expected the 2020 season to be as tumultuous as it was, thanks to COVID-19 and its effects on the planet. The New York Giants were not exempt from the hardships that followed, and players around the NFL elected to opt-out of the 2020 season due to the complications the virus curated.

One Giants player they decided to sit out last year was Nate Solder, the team’s starting left tackle. After the Giants drafted Andrew Thomas in the first round, the expectation was that Solder would swap over to the right side. Moving forward, the expectation is that the Giants will either retain Cam Fleming or insert Matt Peart in 2021. Solder’s playing days with Big Blue might be coming to an end, and if they cut him, he would save them about $10 million in cap space (post-June-1).

There is always the possibility that the 32-year-old lineman retires, as his latest comments indicate he might be ready to hang up his cleats.

“In a lot of ways, I felt like I was letting my teammates down,” Solder told ESPN. “I felt like I was letting the new coaching staff down. The fact is, as a 32-year-old NFL player, it just hurts my chances of having my career trajectory take off at this point. I just have to trust in God and see where he leads me.”

Solder’s football career might be trending downward, but it is his livelihood at the end of the day. He could look to find a new home elsewhere, but that could mean traveling across the country for months on end while his family is left behind. That seems to be a serious factor in his future plans.

Sitting out for the 2020 season was difficult for him in the first place, as the decision revolves primarily around his family. His son, who has been battling cancer for years, was simply more important than the game, justifiably so.

“Trust me, it was an internal tension. But once it became clear, the priority of my family’s lives, of our children and my in-laws and parents and all the connections in our community, man, I just value people more than I value my career in the NFL.”

The New York Giants will likely move on from Solder either way:

For Nate, this is life, but for the Giants, it is business. If the veteran elects to retire, the Giants will save far more than the $10 million they would collect if they cut him post-June 1. At this point, I would say there’s a 50/50 chance he retires or is cut, but we won’t know for a few months. Either way, Solder doesn’t seem too motivated to return to the football field, especially if Covid continues to influence the NFL next season.