In the War of Trenches….Giants get a Solder
by Spiro Kasabian @slickfella_spi
In what could end being their biggest Free Agent splash of 2018, the Giants went out and signed Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million dollar contract – a deal that makes Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. The two-time Super Bowl Champion was counted on to protect the blindside of, what most may say, is the best Quarterback of All-Time in Tom Brady.
Solder has been the slow-footed Brady’s blind side protection since 2011. Since then, Brady has played in 16 games every year (outside of the 2016 suspension-shortened season) with equal sack-rate numbers to Eli Manning, despite Manning having to get rid of the ball much quicker due to scheme and lack of protection. The Giants seem to be getting a reliable Left Tackle with big game experience. That is something they have lacked since the days of a young David Diehl.
Now, some Giants fans are saying, handing out that much money to a lineman who has graded out to be a middle-of-the-pack LT is a mistake. I am not one of those people. I believe there is no price that can be put on the reliability upgrade from Ereck Flowers to Nate Solder.
You could argue that last year was Ereck Flowers’ best year in the NFL. One in which, he was graded out to be the 54th best tackle in the league at 51.5. Nate Solder’s WORST year in the NFL was in 2015, when he graded out to 66.7 (last year he graded out at 75.7). Another stat that should improve with this acquisition, is Eli Manning’s 29 fumbles over the last 3 years (13 lost). With Solder protecting him over Flowers, that number should significantly cut down.
A lot of people were mad that the Giants missed out on the top offensive lineman on the market, Andrew Norwell. At five years, $66 million (in a state with no sales tax), the Giants simply did not have enough money to overpay for his services, despite giving it a valiant effort. Rumor has it that Norwell was offered similar money, but simply chose the Jaguars over the Giants.
In the long run, this may have been the best thing for the Giants, as Guard seems to be one of the deepest positions in this year’s draft. There are at least five 1st-2nd round talents available and there is an almost a certainty that one will be available to the Giants with their 2nd Round pick. With the Solder signing, the Giants have upgraded the Left Tackle position, kicking Flowers to Right Tackle which should/could be an upgrade over Bobby Hart. With the signing of Patrick Omameh and a Guard in the draft, the Giants may have upgraded 4 out of the 5 spots on the OL in one offseason.
If Nate Solder can stay healthy, nobody will think twice about the money that was given to him. For a franchise that has seen the likes of Will Beatty and Ereck Flowers for the last 7+ years, it is going to be very nice to see some above-average Left Tackle play over the next few years.
Is Solder perfect? No, but he’s a monster upgrade.