When you are in your seventh season in the NFL, there are few things you have not seen yet. This holds especially true when you have spent the entirety of those seven years with the same organization, the one that happens to be the most successful one in the league: the New England Patriots. As a member of the team, left tackle Nate Solder has seen it all from triumph to drama to the downright ridiculous.
One thing the 29-year old has not experienced over the course of his professional career, though, is free agency. Solder has been with the Patriots ever since the team made him a first round draft selection in 2011, and for the past six years he served as quarterback Tom Brady's blindside protector. While Brady has seen the occasional sack and hit from Solder's side, his left tackle has been a huge part of the Patriots' success.
This season is no different: Solder started the year slowly but has steadily gotten better as the season progressed. With the upcoming Super Bowl matchup against a highly talented Philadelphia Eagles defense coming up, the veteran sustaining his high level of play will be a key for the Patriots. In order to do just that, Solder is staying focused on the task at hand – despite what might lie ahead.
“I’m very committed and focused to what we’re doing right now,” Solder said during a recent media session. Any other approach would have been surprising especially when it comes to Solder. After all, the veteran offensive lineman is experienced when it comes to blocking out distractions far bigger than him potentially being a free agent in six weeks from now.
As expected, the 29-year old is therefore mum when it comes to addressing his post-Super Bowl period. “I don't know,” Solder answered when asked about whether or not he would return to the Patriots, “I don't know what's going to happen.” However, he noted that he would prefer staying in New England: “I love the people here and it’s a great organization.”
Solder spoke particularly highly of his teammates, who supported him despite the off-field issues he constantly has to deal with. “Those guys have wrapped their arms around me and helped me through this stuff,” the veteran tackle said in regards to his two-year old son's ongoing fight against kidney cancer. “I am so thankful to them and the coaches and everybody who has helped me.”
On Sunday, Solder will face his next big challenge – one, however, that pales in comparison to what else he has to deal with: blocking one of the best defensive lines in football. And if the past has taught us one thing it is that Solder will be ready for it, no matter the potential distractions that lie ahead of him.