New York Giants: Jerry Reese’s OL neglect lands Nate Solder huge contract

FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Nate Solder (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - JANUARY 21: Nate Solder (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

The New York Giants inked Nate Solder to a four-year, $62 million deal on Wednesday, making him the NFL’s highest-paid offensive lineman.

New York Giants fans were ready to revolt again Dave Gettleman and his new regime after missing out on Andrew Norwell on Tuesday and watching many of the top free agents sign with other teams. On Wednesday, however, Gettleman redeemed himself, landing Nate Solder, the top available offensive tackle.

Solder didn’t come cheap, as Big Blue had to make him the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL (Norwell owned that title for about 24 hours) in order to bring him to the Big Apple. The Giants signed Solder to a four-year, $62 million contract.

Why hand out such a large contract when the Giants have limited cap space? Well, Gettleman had to and it’s all Jerry Reese’s fault.

For years, New York has needed to improve their offensive line, but Reese always chose to put band-aids on it instead of finding an actual long-term solution.

At this time last offseason, Giants fans and writers alike were calling for Reese to sign Andrew Whitworth, the top available offensive tackle, even though he was 35 years old. Reese instead put another band-aid on the offensive line, signing guard D.J. Fluker to a one-year deal. The Fluker signing turned out alright and would’ve been even better if he stayed healthy, but that’s not the point.

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Reese decided to roll with Ereck Flowers at left tackle for a third straight season, even though he had done nothing to show improvement over his young NFL career. Flowers spent another season as a human turnstile, the Giants went 3-13, and Reese lost his job along with head coach Ben McAdoo.

Whitworth went on to sign a three-year, $33.75 million deal with the Los Angeles Rams. He completely revitalized the Rams offensive line, opened up running lanes for NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley, and gave Jared Goff time to throw as he took a huge step forward in his development as a second-year quarterback. Los Angeles went 11-5 and made the playoffs.

Whitworth’s contract now looks like a bargain. His cap hits over the three-year deal are $9.167M, $12.167M, and $12.417M and the contract is essentially pay-as-you-go after the 2017 season.

Solder’s megadeal has cap hits of $10M, $17M, $17M, and $18M. Solder is 29 years old and most of the guaranteed money is in the first two years, but an $8M dead cap hit will likely keep Solder around at least through 2020.

Don’t get me wrong, signing Solder was the right move by Gettleman. According to Jordan Raanan of ESPN, the Giants’ offer to Norwell was competitive and Norwell picked the Jaguars instead. Fans often forget that general managers can’t force players to sign with their teams. Gettleman put in his best offer and Norwell chose Jacksonville. Gettleman, as any good executive would do, pivoted and landed the top free agent offensive tackle.

Next: New York Giants: 2018 NFL Free Agency Tracker

Sure, Solder cost a little bit more money, but don’t blame that on Gettleman. If you don’t like how desperate the New York Giants are for offensive linemen, write a letter to Mr. Reese because it was his neglecting of Eli Manning’s protection that got Big Blue into this mess.