Nate Solder’s decision to sign with the New York Giants this past March hit Tom Brady particularly hard.
Speaking Tuesday on WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon, Brady heaped praise on Solder, his New England Patriots teammate for the past seven seasons.
“The Giants got a great player in him,” the 41-year-old quarterback said of his longtime left tackle. “He’s really flourishing, and I know he’s going to have just a great career there, just like he had a great career for us. I’m happy for him and his family and all the success he experiences professionally, and it couldn’t happen to a better guy. He’s just an incredible person.”
Brady said he “absolutely” misses having Solder there to protect his blind side. The Patriots have enjoyed tremendous stability at left tackle throughout Brady’s tenure, with Matt Light starting there from 2001 to 2011 before Solder took the reins from 2012 to 2017.
Veteran newcomer Trent Brown, who is wearing Solder’s old No. 77, is expected to start at left tackle for New England this season.
“I’ve been lucky,” Brady said. “I’ve played with a lot of guys, and I think that particular position, there’s a deep connection. I think center there’s a deep connection and left tackle, and having Nate there for as long as I did — someone I could always count on, rely depend on — he was so consistent day to day.”
Solder was part of the Patriots’ largest free agent exodus in recent memory this spring. He left to join the Giants, wide receiver Danny Amendola signed with the Miami Dolphins, and running back Dion Lewis and cornerback Malcolm Butler both landed in Tennessee with the Titans.
Having played 18 seasons in NFL, Brady has grown accustomed to watching teammates leave town each offseason. It’s never easy to lose one like Solder, though, he said.
“Naturally, I think (other teams) like players that have played for the Patriots,” Brady said. “I mean, we’ve had success, and I think people want to emulate that, and they’re willing to try to get guys that have played for our team. It’s not like it’s a shock anymore (when teammates leave). I think when I was younger, I was pretty naive to the business side of the NFL and couldn’t understand why guys would switch teams, because you come from a high school system or you come from a college environment into a professional environment, and it’s just different. It was definitely more emotional when I was younger.
“I think now, it’s just more of a reality. I mean, you miss the guys and you miss their personalities and what they bring to the team in different ways that maybe people would never know, and anytime you lose a great player, I don’t think it helps the team at all. Hopefully, you can replace that person with someone that can do the job or someone that really brings their own personality to the team.
“But losing a guy like Nate, that’s a big loss. Like I said, we all love him. We miss him. We’ll get to see him (at MetLife Stadium) in about 10 days (when the Patriots and Giants meet in their annual preseason finale), but he’ll always be a great friend.”
Brady also commended the way Solder has dealt with his 3-year-old son Hudson’s cancer treatments. Hudson was diagnosed with kidney cancer when he was 3 months old and continues to visit The Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston for evaluation every two months. Solder himself also battled testicular cancer in 2014.
“He’s such an incredible man and person,” Brady said. “He’s a man of great faith, and I think the way he handled (Hudson’s diagnosis), everyone admired and respected him that much more. I mean, he’s already just a great human being, and then to see how he dealt with and is dealing with it in his family, I couldn’t imagine dealing with it any better. We prayed for him, we think about him, and we all care deeply about him and his situation.”
Solder and his wife, Lexi, also called into the radio-telethon Tuesday morning. You can watch their full interview in the video below.
Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images