The New England Patriots were unable to re-sign their most important free agent.
Left tackle Nate Solder is expected to sign a four-year, $62 million contract with the New York Giants once free agency opens at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, according to multiple reports. The deal will make him the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman.
Solder, the 17th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, spent his first seven NFL seasons in New England, serving as the Patriots’ primary left tackle since Matt Light’s retirement in 2012. The 29-year-old’s departure leaves the Patriots with a glaring hole at the position.
The in-house options to replace Solder all lack significant NFL experience. Cole Croston played just nine snaps in garbage time as a rookie and Tony Garcia, Andrew Jelks and Jason King all have yet to make their pro debuts. LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming, both of whom did a fine job filling in for injured right tackle Marcus Cannon this season, are set to hit free agency.
Signing Solder fills a serious need for the Giants, as Ereck Flowers had been a turnstile on the left side in previous seasons.
Solder started four Super Bowls during his Patriots tenure, winning two. New England reached the AFC Championship Game in all seven of his seasons.
The veteran lineman is one of several high-profile Patriots players to land big-money deals elsewhere this week. Wide receiver Danny Amendola reportedly agreed to a two-year, $12 million contract with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, and running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler both are headed to the Tennessee Titans on four- and five-year deals, respectively.
Lewis’ deal reportedly is worth up to $23 million, while Butler’s is valued at $61 million, including $30 million guaranteed.