As a cancer survivor, Solder was forced to opt out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns. He returned to a franchise this week that barely resembles the one he left.
Not only did Solder lose his job to No. 4 overall pick Andrew Thomas, who underwhelmed in his rookie season but will most certainly start at left tackle Week 1, but the Giants also hired a new head coach and offensive line coach since his opt-out.
“Yeah, it is pretty different, Solder said. “It’s interesting how many guys are new and I love the feel of the guys. I love the way they’re working.”
Solder now enters a competition with third-round pick Matt Peart, who started the second half of last year at right tackle. In just 32 games with the Giants, he has gone from the player who was supposed to end a decade of offensive line woes to a potential benchwarmer.
But Solder, a 10-year veteran, insists that he does not mind competing with younger players.
“Who cares who starts?” Solder said. “I just want to be a part of an excellent group that’s getting better every day and plays at a really high level.”
The Giants signed Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract in 2018, but he failed to live up to that hefty price tag. He allowed nineteen sacks in two seasons — more than he did in four previous years with the Patriots.
Solder agreed to take a large pay cut this year to remain with the team, reducing his base salary from $10 million to $3 million, and is embracing his second chance to impress.
“I’m just thankful they gave me the opportunity to come back,” Solder said. “There were no guarantees with that. And the other thing was just excitement. I found out, I was excited to come back.”
New York’s young offensive line ranked second-worst in the league last year. Regardless of if he starts, Solder knows that his veteran presence will be invaluable as Thomas and Peart continue to develop.
“If I can be somewhere where I’m fulfilling my purpose, where I can be around guys that have the same set of values and goals and myself, it’s a real honor and it’s a privilege to be part of the NFL,” he said.
The Nate Solder news was one highlight from a quiet Giants minicamp which was otherwise dominated by the team’s new wide receivers. First-round pick Kadarius Toney made it through his first full practice on Wednesday, and Kenny Golladay showed off the chemistry he built with Daniel Jones over the offseason.
Image courtesy of Al Bello/Getty Images
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