Looking back over the years, the Patriots have had a lot of stability when it comes to the left tackle position.

Matt Light held that spot for most of Tom Brady’s career until recently retiring, and after he left, it’s been Nate Solder who has stepped in and has held the responsibility of protecting Brady’s blindside since he was drafted back in the first round of 2011.


Nate Solder has been a valuable asset for the Patriots since they selected him back in 2011. (USA TODAY Images)

To most Patriots fans, that’s a pretty valuable spot considering what’s at stake, but an interesting article from USA Today this week pondered just how important the left tackle position really is.

They highlight the fact that Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas has been to the Pro Bowl in each of his first six NFL seasons, including being named a first-team all-pro three times.  Meanwhile, the Browns are just 36-66 and have finished 5-11 or 4-12 five times.

They take it beyond the Browns, noting that over the last 20 years, the Super Bowl winner has had an all-pro left tackle only twice and a Pro Bowler only four times.

Light made the Pro Bowl in 2006, 2007, and 2010.  So he doesn’t qualify since the Patriots’ Super Bowl championships were back in 2001, 2003, and 2004.

As a first round pick, clearly New England was investing in protecting their franchise quarterback when they selected Solder and so far he’s done a good job.  Solder was part of a stat that USA Today highlighted, as in the last five drafts, 20 tackles have been selected in the first round, with some that have also ended up at right tackle.  The only position with more is defensive end, with 23.

But the biggest part of the argument they make comes down to the salaries of the game’s highest-paid left tackles. Topping that list are the Philadelphia Eagles’ Jason Peters ($12.9 million), Cleveland’s Thomas ($11.5 million), the Denver Broncos’ Ryan Clady ($10.5 million), and the New York Jets’ D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Washington Redskins’ Trent Williams ($10 million each).

Solder’s salary for this season is 1/10th of that, as his base salary is just $1.1 million for 2013.

Considering his production compared to some of the above mentioned players, it’s obvious why the question is being raised about the value of these players compared to some of the other skill positions.  That’s a lot of money to spend considering, as the article mentions, other teams like the Packers and Broncos also lost their starting left tackles this season and have still managed to continue winning football games.  The Packers have a fourth rounder in David Bakhitari filling in after their starter, Bryan Bulaga, went down with a season-ending injury, while the Broncos’ Chris Clark is a former undrafted free agent whom the Broncos claimed off waivers from the Vikings back in 2010 and is doing an admirable job while Ryan Clady is out.

It’s kind of surprising that Solder’s name didn’t come into view when you take into account who he’s protecting, especially when you look at his salary compared to some of these other names.

Needless to say it was an interesting look at the position and if nothing else it almost makes Solder seem grossly underpaid by comparison.

FORMER PATRIOTS SAFETY MERIWEATHER SUSPENDED:

Apparently former Patriots safety Brandon Meriweather still hasn’t learned his lesson when it comes to helmet-to-helmet and head shots, and the NFL came down on him this week after suspending him for one game.

He was initially suspended for two games after being penalized twice during last Sunday’s win over Chicago after helmet-to-helmet hits on Bears receivers Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffrey.  However, he appealed the decision and instead will miss just one contest.

All of us came to admire Rodney Harrison for his tough, hard-hitting style despite the fact many players felt he was a dirty player.  However, Harrison was never a head-shot player and it’s too bad that Meriweather can’t seem to discern the difference, and now he’ll pay a pretty hefty price, losing around $70,000 while he’s sidelined this weekend.

EDELMAN TEACHING SOCIAL MEDIA AT EMERSON COLLEGE:

A good article in the BostInno Friday morning on Patriots receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman, who apparently took some time over at Emerson College on Thursday night to talk to students in their social media class.  According to the article this actually came about after he connected with the University through Twitter after students reached out to him with hundreds of tweets last week.

Edelman said that he keeps most of the Tweets about himself and not football when he’s on Twitter, and that he doesn’t Tweet after losses.  Edelman says the reason for that is because people say, “because then people say, ‘Why aren’t you focusing on football?’”

You can read the full article here.

ON TO THIS MORNING’S LINKS:

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots vs. Dolphins matchup breakdown: RT Sebastian Vollmer vs. LE Cameron Wake – Erik Frenz – Frenz has a good entry this morning breaking down the match-up between these two players, including a couple of gif’s that show them up against eachother.

Positive returns for Julian Edelman – Michael Whitmer – Whitmer has a good article this morning on Julian Edelman, who had a good outing in the return game against the Jets on Sunday.

Patriots add Tom Brady to injury report - Michael Whitmer – Whitmer files his notebook this morning, which leads off with the fact Brady was added to the injury report yesterday with a “shoulder” injury.

BOSTON HERALD:

Facing mom worst part of Logan Ryan’s mistake – Jeff Howe – Howe has an article on Ryan, who had to face his mother following his crotch-grabbing antics after his interception.

Chatham: Tackles play like Fish out of water – Matt Chatham – Chatham has his weekly report, which takes a closer look a the tackle position of the Dolphins and offers a lot of insight into Miami’s strengths and shortcomings.

Bill Belichick’s older, but still no pushover -

ESPN BOSTON:

Highlighting Patriots-Dolphins connections – Field Yates – Yates looks at some of the players & coaches who have a connection, including Dolphins coach Josh Philbin, who has a local connection and attended high school in Springfield Massachusetts.

WEEI:

Receiving redux: Could sluggish passing game cause Patriots to Revisit Old Blue Print? – Christopher Price – Price has a good read this morning taking a closer look at the receiver position.

WORCESTER TELEGRAM:

Patriots’ Logan Ryan fined $10000 for offensive celebration – Jennifer Toland – Toland writes that Logan Ryan’s antics after his interception return for a touchdown cost him $10,000 after he was fined by the league.

Dolphins’ Ryan Tannehill nursing wounds, preparing for Patriots – Jennifer Toland – Toland looks at the beating that Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill has taken this season.

ATTLEBORO SUN CHRONICLE:

Kraft happy to write $500K check - Christine Igo Freeman – Freeman writes that after pledging up to $500,000 in matching funds to the progeria foundation after meeting Foxboro High School junior Sam Bearns.

NEPATRIOTSDRAFT.COM:

An Updated Overview of New England’s 2014 Draft Needs - Matthew Jones – Jones looks at some of the upcoming needs that the Patriots may need to address in the offseason through the draft.

BOSTINO:

Patriots’ Julian Edelman Teaches Social Media at Emerson – Lauren Landry – We mentioned this above, but Landry has an article on Julian Edelman, who was at Emerson College and took some time to show their social media class thanks to a Tweet he received recently.