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2018 NFL free agency: Offensive tackle Nate Solder leaves Patriots, signs 4-year, $62 million contract with Giants

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The veteran is expected to leave New England.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-New England Patriots Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

One of the biggest names entering the 2018 free agency was New England Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder. After protecting the blindside of Tom Brady for the majority of the last seven years, the 29-year old hit the open market for the first time since joining the NFL as a first round draft pick in 2011 – and his free agency stint was a short one.

According to Ian Rapoport, Solder has agreed to sign with the New York Giants:

The #Giants are expected to sign former #Patriots LT Nate Solder, source said. They get their franchise left tackle. Huge get.

As noted above, Solder joined the Patriots in the first round of the 2011 draft and became the permanent starter at left tackle one year later. And while Solder has had his fair shares of ups and downs since then, he was able to provide a steady and reliable presence on the Patriots' left side of the offensive line in both the passing and the running game. As such, he played a key role in New England winning two Super Bowls in his first seven seasons in the league.

Losing Solder therefore has to be considered a big blow to the Patriots: Not only loses New England a steady and dependable presence at left tackle, the team also has no clear-cut replacement option in place just yet. It will be interesting to see how New England fills the void created by Solder.

[UPDATE 03/14, 4:59 pm ET] According to Ian Rapoport, the deal runs over four years and is worth a total of $62 million with $35 million in guarantees. Solder is now the highest paid left tackle in the NFL.