The Patriots need to resign Nate Solder. They have a gaping hole at LT, and need to make sure that Brady’s blind side is well protected. This, however, could be a much different story if things had gone differently last year. One only needs to look back at the start of Solder’s career to see what the Patriots had planned.
In 2011, the Patriots had an aging LT, who they thought may not be back in 2012. Matt Light had a great career with the team, but it was clear to most that he would probably be moving on. Luckily, the Patriots had a first round pick acquired in the Richard Seymour deal, and they spent it on what they thought would be their future at LT. It turned out, that because of injuries, Solder started 13 of 16 games at RT, and even started the Super Bowl. When Light retired the next year, the Patriots were secure in having Solder step in and be Brady’s blind side protection.
The Patriots were in a similar position last offseason, and they targeted Antonio(Tony) Garcia out of Troy in the 3rd round. The similarities between Garcia and Solder coming out of school are striking. Both players were considered to be able to add lots of weight onto their massive frame. Solder is 6’8” and Garcia is 6’7” and coming out of school they were both looked at as fairly stringy and underweight for the position. Clearly, the Patriots coveted the athleticism that both possessed coming out of school, believing that they could fill out their frame and turn them into very good to elite tackles. That is exactly what happened to Solder, who has been one of their most consistent linemen. Clearly, the Patriots were hoping to be able to do the same with Garcia.
Everything fell into place perfectly for the Patriots to be able to get Garcia ready to take over at LT next year. Their starting RT, Marcus Cannon, even got hurt as Vollmer did in 2011. The only problem was Garcia. He missed the entire season with a mysterious illness that we later found out was blood clots in his lungs. Now, instead of being able to confidently move on from Solder if they are unable to retain him, the Patriots hands are tied. Without any game experience, and without knowing whether he will remain healthy long term, it’s awfully difficult to hand over the LT position, arguably the 2nd most important position on the offense to Garcia.
Unfortunately, the Patriots have been put in a position in which they don’t like being. They have a need, and the best person to fit that need is going to cost them. They could decide against paying him too much, but then they would be weak at an incredibly important position. Time will tell what they decide, and we know the Belichick will do what’s best for the team, both now and moving forward. It’s tough to argue, however, that not adequately protecting Brady’s blind side would be good for the team.
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