Jul 292020
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Nate Solder, New York Giants (October 7, 2018)

Nate Solder – © USA TODAY Sports

As had been expected by some, New York Giants left tackle Nate Solder has decided to opt out of the 2020 NFL season due to the ongoing COVID-19 issue. Under the agreement reached last week between the NFL and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), players can choose not to play in the upcoming season without penalty. The opt-out is irrevocable.

The highest-paid player on the team, Solder had two years left on his current contract with $9.9 million in base salary each of the final two years, but counting $19.5 million against the 2020 NFL salary cap and $20.5 million against the 2021 salary cap. While his cap hit will be significantly reduced this year (media reports indicate possibly around $13-16 million), his contract will now be pushed to 2022 with the pre-existing significant cap hits now counting in 2021 and 2022. This year, Solder will likely receive $350,000 “stipend” that does not count against future earnings and a credited NFL season towards medical insurance and benefits because he is high risk with family cancer issues. (Compensation is $150,000 for low-risk players).

“My family and I have been praying, wrestling and listening to God about our current circumstances and whether it is best that I play football this season,” Solder said in a prepared statement. “Our primary goal is to pursue God and listen to the Holy Spirit in everything we do. As hard as that can be and as daunting as what He asks us to do can seem, we have come to believe, trust and wait on the Lord. That is why we have chosen to pause for this season. Our family has health concerns, most notably our son’s ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer. We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy. With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.

“We fully recognize that being able to make a decision like this is a privilege. I will deeply miss my teammates, coaches and everyone in the Giants organization. I want to thank them and all my friends and fans who continue to support me and my family through the highs and the lows. As scary and bleak as it sometimes can be, we know that the God of the universe has all things under His control, and His plans are and will always be for our good.”

Solder’s 5-year old son, has been battling with kidney cancer since he was 3-months old. Solder also faced testicular cancer in 2014.

“We have great respect for Nate as a person and player,” said General Manager Dave Gettleman. “When he called today, I told him it is faith, family and football. He is doing what’s best for his family.”

“I spoke with Nate this morning,” said Head Coach Joe Judge. “We were together in New England, obviously, and he has always been a thoughtful, conscientious person. Ultimately, he made this decision because it is the right thing for him and his family. We support Nate and Lexi and their children (son) Hudson, (daughter) Charlie and (son) Emerson. Our concern is for their health and well-being.”

The expectation is that rookie 1st-round pick Andrew Thomas will replace Solder at left tackle with free agent acquisition Cam Fleming competing with Nick Gates at right tackle. Third-rounder Matt Peart could also factor into the equation.

In March 2018, the Giants made Solder the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL when they signed him away from the New England Patriots as unrestricted free agent. However, despite 32 straight starts at left tackle for New York, Solder has not played well at all with the Giants. He really struggled during the first half of 2018 before settling down a bit during the second half of the season. In 2019, his inconsistent play throughout the year both as a pass protector and run blocker was a significant factor in the team’s struggles.

The 6’8”, 325-pound Solder was drafted in the 1st round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Patriots. In nine seasons, Solder has started 127 of the 130 regular-season games he has played in.

Willie Young, an offensive lineman with the New York Giants from 1966-1975, passed away. He was 77. Young played in 135 game with the Giants, starting in 119 of those contests. He was also the father of Rodney Young, who played defensive back for the Giants from 1995-1998.