What kind of contract can New England Patriots offensive tackle, Nate Solder, land in free agency?
The New England Patriots are going to be busy in the coming days and weeks with NFL Free Agency almost upon us. New England will have a lot of work to do attempting to retain their own free agents while adding outside players to the roster.
For the Patriots, arguably the most important free agent they have is offensive tackle, Nate Solder. Solder was a first-round pick by the Patriots in 2011, No. 17 overall. He began his career at right tackle but has played left tackle the past six seasons as Tom Brady‘s blindside protector.
Solder is someone that the Patriots cannot afford to lose. They do not have a replacement on the roster currently, and it isn’t easy to find left tackles. To keep him in New England, the Patriots will have to get creative.
For starters, New England’s cap space is pretty limited. They are near the bottom of the NFL in available cap space. Cap space is relatively easy to create in the NFL, as the Patriots can restructure some contracts or release players. In addition, the Patriots will face competition for Solder.
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Solder is easily the best offensive tackle available, and probably the second-best offensive lineman. Only offensive guard Andrew Norwell of the Carolina Panthers would be in the conversation.
With so few top tackle options available, it will be interesting to see what kind of offers Solder gets. Anyone looking to make an upgrade at left tackle will be looking at Solder as their go-to option.
Over at ESPN, Dan Graziano predicted the contracts that the top free agents would receive on the open market. Solder came in at No. 11 on the list, and if Graziano’s prediction is correct, he will be getting a solid payday.
Graziano predicts that Solder will land a four-year, $49 million deal in free agency. Here is what Graziano had to say about the contract Solder could land.
"The expectation from people around the league is that Solder, who is the top tackle on the market, will end up taking a little bit less than market value to return to the Patriots. A deal like this would slot him in ahead of Tyron Smith and behind players such as Trent Williams and Terron Armstead at the top of the market, but he could get as much as half the deal guaranteed."
If Solder takes less than market value to remain in New England, they will be ecstatic. With their salary cap being limited, saving money in any way possible would be huge.
On a per year basis, that contract would put Solder at No. 5 among left tackles. In addition to Williams and Armstead, Solder would be behind only Russell Okung and Joe Thomas. The total contract would put him ninth among left tackles.
That seems like a fair deal for Solder and the Patriots. It should give them enough wiggle room to negotiate with some other of their free agents, such as running back Dion Lewis.