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What does Nate Solder’s opt out mean for the Giants?

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Cap space cleared, lineup decisions to make

NFL: New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Solder has decided to opt out of playing for the New York Giants in 2020 amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

That has several ramifications for the Giants.

Salary cap

First, Solder was the Giant with the largest 2020 cap hit. He carried a $19.5 million cap with $16 million in dead money if he were cut. Per CBS Sports cap analyst Joel Corry, the Giants will recoup Solder’s $9.9M base salary.

As a testicular cancer survivor and father of a 5-year-old son battling a Wilms tumor, a rare form of kidney cancer, Solder would be considered a high-risk opt out. That means he would be eligible for a $350,000 advance on his 2021 contract.

His current contract would toll, meaning that it would pause or carry over to the 2021 season. The final year of his four-year, $62 million deal is pushed to 2022.

The Giants, per Spotrac, currently have $5.527 million in cap space. That number will jump once Solder’s money comes off the 2020 books.

Could the Giants use that money to make a run at a pass rusher like Jadaveon Clowney or Everson Griffen? A cornerback like Logan Ryan? A center like Justin Britt? Will they save the money and roll it into the 2021 salary cap?

We will see.

Lineup

The first question to be answered is whether first-round pick Andrew Thomas, expected to play right tackle if Solder had been on the roster, will move to left tackle. That is where the No. 4 overall pick played the past two seasons, and we will have to see if head coach Joe Judge and offensive line coach Marc Colombo think putting Thomas on the left is the best option.

It may be as the two players most likely gain a starting spot in Solder’s absence, veteran swing tackle Cameron Fleming and third-year man Nick Gates, seem best-suited to play right instead of left tackle.

Rookie third-round pick Matt Peart might be an option at right tackle, but most analysts believe Peart needs a year of development before he will be capable of playing effectively at the NFL level.

Solder’s absence could also open a roster spot for a tackle like Eric Smith or Nate Wozniak, or perhaps a multi-position player like undrafted free agent Kyle Murphy.

Final thoughts

I’m not surprised at all that Solder has chosen not to play. For a while now, I have been saying that the veteran left tackle, a thoughtful and religious man with obvious family health concerns to consider, would be the Giant most likely to take advantage of an opt-out clause.

“Our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football,” Solder said in the statement announcing his decision.

I applaud his priorities and his willingness to sacrifice for the good of others. Honestly, I wish there were more people like him.