The Giants are close to finalizing a restructured deal that would bring veteran tackle Nate Solder back to the team after a year away from football and significantly reduce the $16.5-million salary cap hit his presence was due to incur. The new agreement has been in the works for several weeks.
Solder opted out of the 2020 season because of concerns regarding COVID-19 and its potential affect on the health of his son, Hudson, who has been fighting cancer, and himself, also a cancer survivor. That pushed the third year of the 2018 free-agent deal that made Solder the highest paid tackle in the league from 2020 to 2021, and with it the heavy chunk of salary cap responsibility against a reduced cap.
Solder, who turns 33 next month, gives the Giants a proved veteran on an offensive line that consists mostly of young players.
The Giants released veteran guard Kevin Zeitler earlier this week but opted to keep Solder, mostly because of the dead money each release was due to cost them. Cutting Zeitler saved $12 million against the cap leaving just $2.5 million on the books. Had the Giants released Solder it would have saved them $6 million, but they still would have carried $10.5 million against the cap. Since they were going to be charged for it anyway, they decided to keep the player too.
They also hope that Solder can give them some value on the field. He and the Giants admitted he did not play well when last on the field for the 2019 season, but both sides hope that the year away from football has allowed Solder to recover from the injuries that exacerbated those struggles. Solder figures to compete for the starting right tackle job, be able to fill in at left tackle if Andrew Thomas has to miss any time, and might even be able to play guard and help replace Zeitler.
Coach Joe Judge said this week that he has spoken to Solder, with whom he worked during their time with the Patriots, "a good bit" since the end of last season.
"To be honest with you, the majority of our conversations have actually had nothing to do with football," Judge said. "Just checked up on him in terms of how the year off went, how his family is doing, how his son is doing and how he’s doing personally. There have been a lot of conversations."
Solder published a statement earlier this week.
"I don’t know what’s going to happen going forward," he wrote. "I just didn’t feel right abandoning my family this [past] year, so I’m spending good time with them. I’m in a place now where if I am offered another chance to play football, I’ll probably take it."
He seems to be doing just that.