EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Giants left tackle Nate Solder, who started every game the previous two seasons, has opted out of the 2020 NFL season due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the agreement reached last week between the NFL and the Players Association, players can choose not to play in the upcoming season without penalty. The opt-out is irrevocable.
"My family and I have been praying, wrestling and listening to God about our current circumstances and whether it is best that I play football this season," Solder said in a statement he posted on Twitter. "Our primary goal is to pursue God and listen to the Holy Spirit in everything we do. As hard as that can be and as daunting as what He asks us to do can seem, we have come to believe, trust and wait on the Lord. That is why we have chosen to pause for this season. Our family has health concerns, most notably our son's ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer. We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy. With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children's health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.
"We fully recognize that being able to make a decision like this is a privilege. I will deeply miss my teammates, coaches and everyone in the Giants organization. I want to thank them and all my friends and fans who continue to support me and my family through the highs and the lows. As scary and bleak as it sometimes can be, we know that the God of the universe has all things under His control, and His plans are and will always be for our good."
View photos of Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder.
The Giants are fully supportive of Solder's decision.
"We have great respect for Nate as a person and player," general manager Dave Gettleman said. "When he called today, I told him it is faith, family and football. He is doing what's best for his family."
Solder spent his first seven NFL seasons in New England, including the last six (2012-17) when Giants coach Joe Judge was with the Patriots as an assistant to Bill Belichick.
"I spoke with Nate this morning," Judge said. "We were together in New England, obviously, and he has always been a thoughtful, conscientious person. Ultimately, he made this decision because it is the right thing for him and his family. We support Nate and Lexi and their children (son) Hudson, (daughter) Charlie and (son) Emerson. Our concern is for their health and well-being."
Hudson, who is five, was diagnosed with a rare Wilms tumor in both kidneys at three months old. During the Giants' bye week last season, Hudson underwent surgery to have a tumor removed before beginning his third round of chemotherapy.
As he indicated in his statement, Nate Solder is also a cancer survivor. A routine physical prior to the 2014 season showed he had testicular cancer. Doctors surgically removed the testicle and determined the cancer had not spread. Solder missed only two weeks of the team's offseason workouts and started all 19 games as the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX. Two months later, because he wanted to spread awareness, Solder finally revealed that he had been diagnosed and cured of cancer. Six months after his admission, the family learned Hudson had a rare form of pediatric kidney cancer.
Solder, 32, joined the Giants as a free agent in 2018. Left guard Will Hernandez, defensive tackle Dalvin Tomlinson and Solder were the only Giants to start every game in the 2018-19 seasons. In addition to his consistency and reliability on the field, Solder is one of the NFL's most giving players in the community. He was the Giants' 2019 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee, an honor he also received with New England in 2017.
Solder was the Patriots' first-round draft choice in 2011. He played in four Super Bowls, winning two, for New England.
In his career, Solder has played in 130 regular-season games with 127 starts – 113 at left tackle, 11 at right tackle, and three as a tackle-eligible tight end. Has also started all 16 postseason games in which he has played, including the last 13 at left tackle.
Solder's departure creates a void both on the line and in the locker room; a natural leader and the team's most experienced lineman, he was elected one of the team's captains in each of his first two Giants seasons.
The Giants have several candidates to replace Solder at left tackle, including first-round draft choice Andrew Thomas, third-year pro Nick Gates, free agent acquisition Cam Fleming and Eric Smith, who stepped in when Solder left the game against the Jets last Nov. 10 with a concussion.