The Giants have signed free agent offensive tackle Nate Solder:
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J – The first hog molly is in the house.
The Giants today signed standout left tackle Nate Solder, the initial acquisition in their promised reconstruction of the offensive line. Solder played his first seven NFL seasons with the New England Patriots, with whom he played in four Super Bowls, winning two.
"I'm so thankful, this is a first class organization," Solder said during his first visit to the Giants' locker room. "It's a wonderful opportunity for me and my family. I'm so glad to be here. I'm so thankful to the families -- the Maras and the Tisches and Mr. (Dave) Gettleman (the general manager) and everyone that has helped to get me here. I'm just very thankful.
"We had such a great experience in New England, we love those people, they've taken great care of us. It was hard to leave; we had a lot of success there, and hopefully coming here that we'll have the same."
When he was introduced as the G.M. on Dec. 29, Gettleman said securing large players to restock the line was one of his primary goals of this offseason "I believe in the hog mollies," he said.
Solder certainly fits the profile. He is 6-8 and 325 pounds, strong, limber and durable. He has played in 98 regular-season games with 95 starts – 81 at left tackle, 11 at right tackle, and three as a tackle-eligible tight end. Solder has been a stalwart lineman in an offense that is annually one of the NFL's most prolific. He has helped protect the blind side of Tom Brady, who has thrown 227 regular-season touchdown passes since Solder's arrival.
"Nate has been a quality left tackle in this league since the day he entered," Gettleman said. "He's physically matured and he's become as good a run blocker as he is a pass blocker. We're just very, very pleased that he wanted to come here. He's genuinely excited about it, which is important to me, obviously. Every decision that comes out of the GM's office sends a message and I think this is a very strong statement."
Is Solder a prototype hog molly?
"Yes," Gettleman said. "Earlier I said he's matured physically, he's thickened up. Coming out of Colorado back seven, eight years ago, he was more of a linear guy, but he's grown physically and he's matured physically and yes, he is."
Solder comes to the Giants from the NFL's winningest program in New England. The Patriots reached the AFC Championship in each of Solder's seven seasons. Solder has also started all 16 postseason games in which he's played, including the last 13 at left tackle.
"The biggest thing about winning as a player is understanding what it takes to win," Gettleman said, "and the understanding that the guys on the other side of the field are getting paid to play, too. That is one thing that Nate definitely understands. The Patriots have a very demanding culture up there, which we're going to have as well. So it won't be any surprise to Nate. At the end of the day, he certainly can show people what is required, the preparation and the work to win."
Ereck Flowers, the Giants' 2015 first-round draft choice, started all but two games at left tackle for the Giants the previous three seasons. Flowers will now compete for the starting job at right tackle, a message that was delivered to him by coach Pat Shurmur.
"As soon as we announced the signing of Nate, Pat spoke with Ereck," Gettleman said. "He called him on the phone to talk to him and said, 'Listen, we're going to move you to right, and at the end of the day, the five best offensive linemen play.' That's where they left it, and Ereck was fine on the phone."
Can Flowers be a contender at right tackle?
"Absolutely," Gettleman said. "He's a big, strong powerful kid and it's just a matter of getting used to playing over there."
The Patriots selected Solder 17th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, from Colorado. As a rookie, he made 13 starts in the regular season and two in the postseason at right tackle. His other starts that season were as a tackle-eligible tight end, including in Super Bowl XLVI against the Giants.
Solder began his multi-year assignment at left tackle in 2012, following the retirement of Matt Light. He started all 18 regular-season and postseason games, and played a team-high 1,234 offensive snaps. Solder started 36 total games in 2013-14. New England defeated Seattle in Super Bowl XLIX in the second of those seasons. In the Patriots' AFC Championship game defeat of Indianapolis, Solder caught a 16-yard touchdown pass from Brady, his first career reception.
In 2015, he tore his right biceps at Dallas on Oct. 11 and was placed on season-ending injured reserve three days later. The next year he returned at full strength and started all but one game.
Last season, the Patriots again advanced to the Super Bowl (where they lost to Philadelphia), and Solder started all 19 games, including one at tight end. He was named an alternate to the Pro Bowl, and would have played in the game had the Patriots not advanced to Super Bowl LII.
Solder was the Patriots' 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year nominee. He previously overcame testicular cancer, and his son, Hudson, has undergone treatment for kidney cancer, which was diagnosed when he was just three months old in October 2015.
"I'm really looking forward to my opportunity to help out this community," Solder said. "We plan to be a huge staple with that. We plan on spending as much time as we can giving back, and spending that time doing that and on the football field. My main thing is that I'm going to try hard. I'm going to do the best that I can with everything that I've been given. It is all God-given ability that I just try to put forward."
Solder looks forward to being one of the key performers on the Giants' rebuilt offensive line.
"Hopefully we just have a great group of guys - the personalities, the things that you work together, the guys that you fight for, the guys that you kill yourself for," Solder said. "That's usually been the O-line. That has been my experience and I'm looking forward to it here."
Photos of new Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder, who previously played for the Patriots.