The New York Giants are counting on growth from young quarterback Daniel Jones in 2020 under new coach Joe Judge, but Jones will now have to do so without his blind-side protector. Left tackle Nate Solder, who was arguably entering a make-or-break year on a big contract, announced via social media Wednesday that he's decided to opt out of the upcoming NFL season over family health concerns.
"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 wrote. "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 ... (Our) children's health and the health of our neighbors comes before football ... I will deeply miss my teammates, coaches and everyone in the Giants organization."
The CDC lists cancer as a factor for increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Solder is a survivor of testicular cancer, with which he was diagnosed in 2014, and his son Hudson has battled cancerous kidney tumors since he was 3 months old. With his decision to opt out of the 2020 season, as permitted by the NFL's revised collective bargaining agreement, Solder becomes the first Giants player to publicly exercise the right to sit out and have his contract toll to 2021.
Per a source close to NJ.com's Ryan Dunleavy, the Giants believe Nate Solder fits the "high-risk" category, which would qualify him for the NFL's $350,000 advance for opting out of the 2020 season. However, there is paperwork that is needed to be filed in order for the NFL to make a final determination.
A prized free agent signing in 2018, when he landed a four-year, $62 million deal from New York, the former New England Patriots starter and two-time Super Bowl champion wasn't necessarily a lock to hold down LT duties through or beyond 2020. His absence, however, figures to put added pressure on first-round draft pick Andrew Thomas, who was slated to open his rookie year at right tackle but could be tasked with swapping sides to protect Jones. New York also added former Dallas Cowboys OT Cam Fleming this offseason.