After much speculation, Nate Solder is set to return to East Rutherford.
With free agency just days away and the New York Giants slim on cap space, the veteran offensive tackle has been widely perceived as a likely cap casualty — clearly, the team had different plans.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Solder has agreed in principle to a reworked deal. The two sides are still hammering out the final details, but barring any last-minute setbacks, the two-time Super Bowl Champion is primed to return to the Giants for the 2021 season.
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Solder to Compete With Matt Peart?
Solder, set to turn 33 years old in April, missed the entire 2020 season as a high-risk opt-out due to concerns over his family’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite signs pointing towards the former first-round pick opting to hang up his cleats for good, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan reported late last month that Solder did indeed plan on returning to the gridiron in 2021.
Now, with Solder back in the fold, the team appears to have a competition on their hands when it comes to who will man the right tackle spot this coming season.
Meeting with reporters on Tuesday for the first time since the team’s end-of-season press conference, general manager Dave Gettleman voiced his confidence in his young offensive tackle duo of Andrew Thomas and Matt Peart.
Asked whether he would be comfortable going into the season with the two second-year players as the team’s starting tackles, Gettleman responded, “I am, yes.”
“When he played, he played fine. He played pretty damn well,” Gettleman said of Peart. “At some point in time, you’ve got to let the young kids play. Listen, every player was a rookie at some point or a young player at some point. At some point in time, you have to have confidence in who’s on your club and you have to put him in there and let him play. Like I’ve said to some of you, how many of you had Pulitzer Prize-winning articles your first or second year?”
A raw, yet uber-talented prospect coming out of UConn, Peart played sparingly as a rookie last season. The former third-round pick appeared in 11 total games, notching just 15% of the team’s offensive snaps (150 snaps). Peart’s lone start came in place of Thomas, who was benched due to violating team policy. In his limited run, Peart earned a solid 69.7 overall grade by Pro Football Focus in 2020. The 23-year-old flaunted an enticing skillset in the run game, earning an outstanding 81.7 run-blocking grade. However, his 46.9 pass-blocking grade left much to be desired.
Solder’s Outlook Heading into 2020
As for Solder, it’s highly unlikely the veteran took a pay cut to remain with the Giants only to be deligated to second-string. Of his 130 career games, Solder has started 127. While his play has been on a steady downslide since inking a $35 million guaranteed contract with the Giants in 2018, he still likely remains one of the Giants’ best five offensive linemen.
With the release of Kevin Zeitler, and Will Hernandez’s future up in the air, there are holes to fill across the unit. Not saying either Solder or Peart are headed for a position change, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see such a move occur.