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2018 NFL free agency rumor: There is “not a lot of optimism” that Nate Solder returns to Patriots

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The starting left tackle could be on his way out of New England.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots will lose three of their core players to free agency today as Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler will all sign contracts elsewhere. It appears as if there is a realistic scenario that New England also loses another starter: starting left tackle Nate Solder, who was the team's number one priority heading into the offseason.

According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, however, there is not a lot optimism that he returns:

One free agent to watch today: #Patriots LT Nate Solder. As of last night, it sounded like #Giants or #Texans… and there wasn’t a lot of optimism that he’d return to New England.

Solder is clearly the best offensive tackle on the market and as such a popular player for teams to go after – and it looks like teams are doing just that. While the Giants currently have less salary cap space (per overthecap.com) than New England's $21.2 million, the Texans have a whooping $65.7 million to operate with. There are therefore realistic chances that a bidding war for the 29-year old's services does not go in the Patriots' favor.

Losing Solder – especially considering the other moves – would be a big blow to New England as the team does not appear to have no clear-cut replacement option under contract right now.