Source: Giants looking to give Nate Solder a chance to return

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Ralph Vacchiano
·3 min read
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Nate Solder without helmet on
Nate Solder without helmet on

Nate Solder wrote on Wednesday that he’d “probably” return to the NFL this season if he’s given the chance.

It now looks like he’ll get that chance with the Giants.

The door to a return is definitely open for the 32-year-old left tackle to return, according to a source, after he opted out of the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That once seemed like a longshot given the $16.5 million salary cap number he carries into 2021 and the Giants’ commitment to a youth movement on the offensive line, but it has turned into a realistic possibility.

The key, apparently, will be how much of a pay cut he’s willing to take. With the Giants only $4 million under the $182.5 million salary cap for 2021, carrying Solder’s cap number would be untenable, especially since they could clear up to $10 million by simply cutting him. But if he’s willing to significantly reduce the $10 million he’s currently due in salary and bonuses, the Giants believe he could still have value to them.

The Giants always have valued his character and believe he could be a good influence on their very young offensive line, a source said. Head coach Joe Judge knows him well from their days in New England, too. And the Giants planned to sign a veteran tackle at some point this offseason anyway. Solder would be a perfect fit for that role.

If Solder does return, the 6-8, 325-pounder would probably have to move to right tackle, since the Giants are committed to Andrew Thomas, last year’s first-round pick, on the left side.

Veteran Cam Fleming was the Giants’ starting right tackle last season, but he’s a free agent. The Giants are hopeful that Matt Peart, last year’s third-round pick, will seize the starting job. But Solder could be competition for the starting spot, or even a placeholder until Peart is ready.

The Giants also could theoretically restructure Solder’s contract instead of forcing him to take a pay cut, since he does still have another year left on his deal. But given his age they’re unlikely to want to commit to him beyond this year, nor are they likely interested in pushing some of his cap charges into 2022.

Plus, they have the leverage to force a pay cut, since Solder clearly knows that after a year off from football he’s not likely to get a lot of interest as a free agent.

“The opportunity of playing in the NFL again at the age of 32 isn’t great,” he wrote for The Increase on Wednesday. "I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward.”

But he added “I’m in a place now where if I am offered another chance to play football, I’ll probably take it.”

With free agency set to open next Wednesday, Solder’s decision on whether he takes that chance with the Giants is expected to come in the next few days.