The Giants entered the preliminary stages of their offseason planning not knowing if Nate Solder, their towering offensive tackle, wanted to return to the game, or if his year away from football was going to take him into retirement.
Once Solder decided he wanted back in, the Giants went to work restructuring his contract to make his return make sense within their salary cap limitations.
For several days, a new deal was in the works, and the Giants were confident Solder would come to terms. A deal is now in the books, and, while it is a financial blow to Solder, it saves the Giants $6 million on their 2021 salary cap, The Post confirmed.
Solder was scheduled to make $10 million in salary, and the slashing reduces that to about $4 million, including some bonus money. He turns 33 next month.
Solder started all 32 games at left tackle in his first two years with the Giants after signing a four-year, $62 million deal that, for a time, made him the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman. He opted out of the 2020 season, citing COVID-19 concerns, as his kindergarten-age son is in cancer treatment and Solder himself previously had testicular cancer.
Solder’s original contract had him counting $16.5 million on this year’s salary cap, which was never going to happen. With the $4 million in salary and $10.5 million in prorated bonus, Solder’s cap hit was reduced to $10.5 million.
The cut in pay is commensurate with what will likely be a change in role. The Giants took Andrew Thomas with the No. 4 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and, and, after an up-and-down rookie year, he will remain their starting left tackle. The Giants hope Matt Peart, a third-round pick last year, can emerge as their starting right tackle in his second season. If that is the case, Solder will provide insurance on the roster as a backup swing tackle.
If Peart cannot handle the starting role, or if Solder simply beats him out, Solder moves in as the starting right tackle, a position he has not played since his 2011 rookie year with the Patriots.
It remains to be seen what the year away from football did for Solder, a 6-foot-8, 325-pound athlete who had his share of physical bumps and bruises in 2018 and 2019, although he never missed a start. The Giants have a new offensive line coach in Rob Sale, though their assistant offensive line coach Ben Wilkerson will return and is familiar with Solder from their two years together with the Giants.
The Giants made official the previously-reported re-signings of DT Austin Johnson and WR C.J. Board and announced the re-signing of long snapper Casey Kreiter.