Of the New England Patriots four big name free agents for the 2017 season, LT Nate Solder has stayed the furthest away from the spotlight. QB Jimmy Garoppolo and CB Malcolm Butler were at the center of numerous offseason stories, while WR Julian Edelman is a well-regarded fan favorite.
Solder, entering his 7th season after being the 17th overall selection of the 2011 draft, is in his prime at 29 years young and coming off possibly the best season of his career, Super Bowl notwithstanding.
And yet Solder isn’t looking ahead to a new contract, per the Herald’s Jeff Howe.
“No, no, no,” Solder said when asked if he is thinking about the final year of his deal. “Everything I do is based on taking it one day at a time because God gave me this day and I’m so thankful for that.”
Solder’s son, Hudson, who is approaching his second birthday, has been treated for a Wilms’ tumor in his kidneys since his diagnosis in October 2015. And Solder himself beat testicular cancer in 2014.
Solder has fought far more important battles off the field and he will have made roughly $36 million on his contracts with the Patriots after the 2017 season. He doesn’t need more money if he wants to spend more time with his family and no one would blame him.
The Patriots have moved forward as if Solder can’t be relied on for a return beyond the 2017 season after they drafted OT Tony Garcia in the third round and double dipped with OT Conor McDermott in the sixth round.
OT Cameron Fleming and OT LaAdrian Waddle (if he gets through cuts this season) will join Solder as free agents in 2018, too, so the tackle position could look very different next season.
New England has structured the position in a way where Solder could return to his starting left tackle position for the next few years if he wishes- but Solder has no idea about what the future holds.
“I’m loving playing right now, having a great time,” Solder said. “Hopefully I can extend it, but I don’t know what is going to happen, honestly.”
The Patriots would love to keep Solder around on a deal similar to Marcus Cannon’s 5-year, $32.4 million extension, but the left tackle will see a lot more money than Cannon.
Perhaps the Patriots would be interested in a 4-year deal so Solder’s and Cannon’s contracts align. Solder should make between $10-$12 million per season, which would rank between 5th and 15th in the league for tackle deals.
The Patriots wouldn’t mind having Garcia as a swing tackle; investing a third round pick in Garcia isn’t much different than having Fleming (a former fourth round pick) as the top back-up.
But so long as Solder wants to continue to play football, don’t be surprised if he remains in the Patriots future.