Giants 2021 Make or Break Players: Does Nate Solder have more left in the tank?

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Nate Solder Treated Image
Nate Solder Treated Image

NFL training camp starts at the end of the month, which means players around the league are getting their last bits of offseason work in before the real work of trying to make the roster begins.

For certain players, this season is what some may call “Make or Break,” meaning they need to put together a productive year or they could be looking for employment elsewhere at the end of the 2021-22 campaign.

We’ll highlight those players for the Giants, this time with OT Nate Solder...

Why Make or Break?

Solder decided to sit out the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, and there is now a new head coach and two new tackles on the offensive line: Fourth overall pick Andrew Thomas and third-rounder Matt Peart.

Thomas has no choice but to work through his up-and-down rookie campaign on the left side of the line given his draft status. The Giants still have faith he is the best tackle in the 2020 draft, and last season didn't showcase his best game. Peart was thought of as a project coming out of UConn, but the Bronx native showed spurts of great football last season, which brings him into training camp a favorite to start on the right side.

Where does that leave Solder, the two-time Super Bowl champion? Well, he can be viewed at the moment as a swing tackle, or a backup to put it simpler, especially if Peart proves he can start on the right side opposite Thomas.

That's why the Giants needed to restructure Solder's deal to around $4 million for this season, because they don't expect him to immediately return to start. And at 33 years old, who knows what to expect from someone at his age a year removed from football?

So, if Solder wants to stick around this season with Big Blue, it's an uphill climb.

What will break it?

Two things, one of which requires a coach's nod and the other being performance on the field.

The first is playing time. Solder can control his own destiny in training camp, making sure that he does what needs to be done to prove to his coaches a year off doesn't mean he isn't NFL ready. Again, Giants coaches will hope that Peart comes into training camp ready to take on a bigger role because he and Thomas could be the anchors at the end of the line for years to come if all works out.

But, if that isn't the case and Solder is needed to play either left or right tackle (injuries are always a wild card, too), then it would be best he doesn't do what he did in 2019. And that's allow a lot of pressures. According to Pro Football Focus, it was 56 to be exact and 11 sacks on a rookie Daniel Jones.

In Year 3, I don't think the signal caller would appreciate being rushed like that again.

What will make it?

If Solder does indeed want to stay with the Giants -- he noted during OTAs that he would jump at any chance to play football -- then beating out Peart should be his priority.

As we mentioned, it's an uphill climb for an older tackle no matter how many good seasons he's accumulated. The Giants are continuing to upgrade their roster, and though their offensive line wasn't touched much in the offseason, that could very well change after this season -- and Solder is a prime candidate to be gone.

But if the old Solder, all 6-foot-8 and technically sound, shows up on the gridiron ... things could change. He won't garner a big contract again, but he could be worth a few million to give Peart more developmental time and use as a mentor, too, for everyone including Thomas.