Tag Archives: Nate Solder

Best Of Social Media: Preseason Week 4 Giants vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
August 30, 2019 at 8:47 pm ET

The Patriots wrapped up the 2019 preseason with the New York Giants on Thursday night.

Check out all the best social media postings and videos from the final tuneup before the regular season.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B1wsl0Fg8IJ/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B1wtRD1AwXS/
https://www.instagram.com/p/B1w8gdmHPfV/
https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1167210229467156480?s=20
https://twitter.com/NBCSCameraGuys/status/1167216037735088130

In the first quarter Josh Gordon made his first appearance since being reinstated.

A Stephen Gostkowski 31 yard field goal gave the Patriots an early 3-0 lead.

The Giants would answer back with a 35 yard pass from Alex Tanney to Alonzo Russell.

7-3 New York Giants.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1167228155402211328?s=20

A 32 yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas gave the Giants their first lead of the game after one quarter of play.

10-3 NYG.

The second quarter became the Demaryius Thomas Show.

Thomas, who missed the remainder of the 2018 season with an achilles injury, looked sharp.

Thomas hauled in a 35 yard highlight catch for a touchdown from Jarrett Stidham, the two point attempt failed.

10-9 ballgame early in the second quarter.

The Patriots retook the lead when Stidham again found Thomas for a score completing a perfect drive for the rookie quarterback.

16-10 Patriots at the eight minute mark of the second.

Stephen Gostkowski tacked on a 40 yard field goal to extend the Patriot lead to nine.

A Nick Brossette rushing score opened up a 26-10 Patriots lead.

https://twitter.com/NBrossette/status/1167408480564723712?s=20

Don’t tell Tom Brady and Julian Edelman that its week four of preseason.

A Stephen Gostkowski 51 yard field goal just before halftime pushed the Patriot lead to 29-10.

In the third quarter the Giants mounted a comeback following a field goal and Kyle Lauletta touchdown to Scott Simonson to cut the Patriots lead to ten at 29-19 after three.

Gunner Olszewski captured the attention of many in the second half for his versatility to play multiple positions, will it earn him a roster spot, we will see?

The Giants comeback continued into the fourth quarter as Wayne Gallman brought big blue within three at 29-25.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1167261768516694017?s=20

With the clock winding down on the game late fourth, Alonzo Russell hauled in a stunning buzzer beater, game winning touchdown from Kyle Lauletta.

The Giants once again foiled a Patriots perfect (pre) season attempt with a come from behind 31-29 victory.

The regular season at long last begins for real on September 8th at 8:25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1167273440677466112?s=20

31-29 FINAL NYG

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1167279830246842368?s=20

Best Of Social Media: Preseason Week 4 Patriots vs Giants

Robert Alvarez
August 31, 2018 at 9:30 pm ET

The New England Patriots concluded their 2018 preseason schedule at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Thursday night as final roster spot battles dominated the storylines heading into the game.

MA ➡️ NJ

A post shared by Lawrence Guy (@thatlguy) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnHFTlXBvAT/?taken-by=tombrady

Everything else is just noise.

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

In the first half there wasn’t much scoring as neither offense could get much going, a Stephen Gostkowski 33 yard field goal put the Patriots up 3-0 after one.

On defense, 2018 undrafted free agent JC Jackson made his presence known with his first of two interceptions on the night.

In the second quarter, New York Giants rookie quarterback Kyle Lauletta found Amba Etta-Tawo for a 41 yard touchdown to put the “G-Men” in front 6-3 heading into halftime.

But not before K.J. Maye showed off his speed.

With about eight minutes to go in the half and not much happening, a funny moment was captured when former linebacker turned sideline reporter Rob Ninkovich shared a personal story about Rob Gronkowski’s house robbery.

6-3 Giants at halftime.

In the third quarter, J.C. Jackson tallied another highlight interception.

The pick led to a big 45 yard reception for K.J. Maye.

Ralph Webb put the Patriots back in front with a short 1 yard pass from quarterback Danny Etling. 10-6 through three.

With four minutes to go in the game, Etling pulled off the highlight of the preseason with an incredible 86 yard touchdown run to put the Patriots ahead for good at 17-6.

The Giants would tack on a garbage time touchdown as the Patriots would go on to conclude the preseason with a 17-12 victory and a 3-1 record.

Run, @dannyphantom08, run!

A post shared by New England Patriots (@patriots) on

 

Nate Solder Thanks Patriots With Boston Globe Ad

Robert Alvarez
March 25, 2018 at 6:21 pm ET

In one of the more surprising free agency losses of the New England Patriots offseason, New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder wanted to say one final goodbye to the franchise that drafted him 17th overall in 2011.

In Sunday’s Boston Globe, Solder took out a full page ad to thank the Patriots organization and fans for their support to him and his family over the last seven seasons.

Take a look in the Tweet below:

Podcast: The Recent Subtractions And Additions To The Patriots Roster

Russ Goldman
March 20, 2018 at 12:25 pm ET

In this episode, we talked about the Patriots players who have recently left, and the addtitions to the 2018 Patriots roster so far.

New England Patriots News 3-18, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 18, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 3-18, & AFC East Notes

Quick Hitters: The Patriots have given safety Pat Chung another short-term extension on his contract that ran through the current 2018 season. Terms are not available. But since he returned for his second stint with the team, Chung has been a valuable, dependable defender. Good move all around.

No Honey Badger in NE, tonight we learned that Tyrann Mathieu was heading to the Houston Texans on a one-year deal as what so often happens plays out. It seems every free agent is rumored to be going to New England. And frequently as in Mathieu and Richard Sherman, the Patriots weren’t even in the game.

Often times, I believe that the agents push this agenda to drive up the price and market for their clients. Just like the Patriots were supposedly “in on” Ndamukong Suh and Jordy Nelson which is borderline ridiculous at this point. With about $15.6 million dollars of cap space, how would the team afford to sign a player like Suh or Nelson, if they even wanted them?

Free Agency- When will fans learn that the Patriots, unlike last year, much more often than not eschew the opening feeding frenzy of free agency where several players are in our opinion, are overpaid and then make the moves that they must to build the depth of the roster for the long haul.

This year, the cries of despair from the fan base have never been louder, as if the people that run the operation over at 1 Patriot Place all of a sudden forgot how to build a team. They’ve been to eight Super Bowls in the past 17 years. They know how to build a team that will be playing in February, not winning Day 1 of free agency in March.

And the intent of some to drive the narrative to question every move that Belichick makes like the Red Sox managers have had to endure since Dick Williams (Google his name) is laughable. “Grady Belichick” is the lamest yet, for some media members who are intent on forcing the issue.

Pats Lose Four Key Players Early in Free Agency:
Right after the season ended, we didn’t think there was a chance of Malcolm Butler returning in 2018, and that wasn’t a surprise when he left, for a big payday with the Titans. And with the draft class strong at running back, we’d didn’t feel the market would be that great for Dion Lewis, even though he’s shown how electrifying he can be. He’s had only one healthy season, 2017, but the market heated up for him and he too signed with a nice deal from Tennessee.

But the loss of Danny Amendola and Nate Solder hurt especially. Partly because we expected both to be back. Amendola because he was so clutch at crunch time for the past several years and was their punt returner as well as a go-to guy in the playoffs.  And Solder, because he’s protected Brady’s blind side for the past seven years and they really don’t have a replacement plan in place.

LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming are fine swing tackles. But over a 16-game season? I don’t know that they’re the best options and both are free agents anyway. Tony Garcia? After missing all of 2017 with an illness, we’re not even sure he’ll be ready to play, much less be a capable player yet. The other alternatives (for now) are recently signed Matt Tobin, (depth player) Andrew Jelks and Cole Croston. So the loss of Solder hurt.

But it hard to find fault there, the deals for Amendola and Solder were much more than the Patriots could or would be willing to offer. The Patriots offer to Solder was 4 years, $50 million, while more than $12 million a year, was a full $12 million less than the Giants offered. That is substantial.

While the frustration level of losing those key players is understandable, it has to be tempered with the realization that the business model that the Patriots have stuck to for so long is the reason that they are able to remain so competitive for so long.

Patriots Add Five Players Including McCourty, Clayborn, and Hill:
The news wasn’t all bad, as usual, the team began building their roster depth, resigning special teamers Brandon King and Nate Ebner and running back Rex Burkhead. Burkhead was an intriguing, New England kind of player. While he’s not outstanding in any one facet of his game, he does everything well. He runs between the tackles, can catch the ball, pass protect and be a key special teams guy.

The trade for Danny Shelton became official, which will immediately impact the Patriots rush defense. With an interior rotation of Malcom Brown, Shelton, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine (who returns from IR) and Adam Butler, who is more of an interior sub rusher, they depth is much stronger now.

The Patriots addressed cornerback with the trade of Jason McCourty which we covered in a piece here:  I still believe that the team will add another corner in the upcoming draft, but they are building depth while adding a veteran presence there.

Then the team signed DE Adrian Clayborn as well as RB Jeremy Hill. So the Patriots have hardly been stagnant during free agency. Were they the splash moves everyone clamors for? No, but the roster is building up for the 90 man limit. And there is still a long, long way to go. We’ll give our thoughts on the newest additions below.

Adrian Clayborn Immediately Upgrades the Front Seven:
The Patriots suffered a slew of injuries along the front seven last season, coupled with the loss of Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long in free agency as well as the sudden retirement of Rob Ninkovich left them in a bind all season long.

Getting Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin, Valentine, and Derek Rivers back will no doubt help. But the team added another very nice piece in signing DE Adrian Clayborn the free agent from the Atlanta Falcons.

Clayborn who will turn 30 in July, is coming off of a 9.0 sack season (six in one game against Dallas) and is a very good but not great pass rusher. But what he does extremely well is set the edge in the running game. And in the Patriots defense, that is paramount. They aren’t, nor ever will be, that pin your ears back, attacking defense.

One play that Patriots fans may remember well with Clayborn is back during the joint practices in 2013. Clayborn bullrushed Nate Solder and their feet got tangled up and Tom Brady went down in a heap. It was an accidental play. Brady held his knee and was down for several moments before walking off. My pic from the practice was carried by Boston.com for their column that day.

Adrian Clayborn and Nate Solder got tied up and Solder fell into Brady but he wasn’t seriously injured. (SBalestrieri photo)

Clayborn will be just fine here, he has a relentless motor and will take a lot of heat off of Trey Flowers on the other side of the defensive line. After four seasons with the Bucs, he spent the last two with the Falcons. He’s had injury problems during his career but a healthy 2018 will be a successful one for the veteran in this scheme.

Jeremy Hill,  Gives the Patriots Needed Depth at RB:
When the Bengals drafted Joe Mixon in the 2017 NFL Draft, Hill became expendable. And at just 25-years old, Hill has plenty left in the tank. At 230 pounds, he is the big back that the Patriots had in LeGarrette Blount. And short yardage was a sore spot for the Patriots offense in 2017. The Pats ranked a lowly 24th in the league on converting third or fourth and one last season. Hill will definitely help in that aspect.

But for the immediate future, he gives the team options, he and Mike Gillislee will compete for the big back role in the Patriots offense. He’s had issues with ball security in the past but he knows how Belichick feels about those and it will be a key area for him to work on. Eventually, in camp, the team may have to decide whether to keep one or the other as the team’s big back. But for now, the team just added two much-needed depth backs with him and Burkhead, who were teammates in Cincinnati.

One area that may be in Hill’s favor is that he’s a decent pass receiver, something the Patriots like their running backs to do in their offense. It is the case of the more you can do which helps to secure a roster spot on the Patriots. So we’ll see what a fresh slate can do for Hill.

While the Patriots will still probably draft a running back this season, it now probably won’t be one in the top rounds, it will probably be a later round, developmental pick.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Are Very Active in Free Agency:
The Buffalo Bills haven’t been shy about making a slew of moves in free agency. After signing CB Vontae Davis, they shipped off LT Cordy Glenn to the Bengals and now have picks #12 and #22 in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.

But that was hardly the tip of the iceberg as the Bills signed DT Star Lotulelei, re-signed DT Kyle Williams, then signed DE Trent Murphy from the Redskins strengthening their pass rush.

The Bills added depth to the running back position by signing veterans Chris Ivory and Travaris Cadet. And then after unloading QB Tyrod Taylor to the Browns, they signed their bridge QB, A.J. McCarron for a 2-year, $10 million dollar price tag from the Bengals.

It has been a busy off-season for the Bills and they are far from done. It will be an interesting draft season in Buffalo. While I may think they overpaid Murphy and question the trade of Glenn, the Bills are still in much better shape than they were after their playoff loss to the Jaguars.

Dolphins Plan to be “Straight Up Flying” in 2018:
The Miami Dolphins are never ones to lack for confidence in the offseason. After trading Jarvis Landry to the Browns, the team has addressed his loss by adding former Patriot wide receiver Danny Amendola and Albert Wilson from the Chiefs and confidence is high in South Beach.

.“We’re straight up flying,” said Wilson. “I feel like the way we’re going to put the stretch on some defense is going to be crazy. The speed outright shows itself.”  Both Wilson and Amendola can play the slot or move outside. That will present matchup problems for opposing defenses.

Wilson, who was the fourth or fifth option in Kansas City, now will get a chance to see the ball a lot more. And with Amendola setting the table by making the chain moving catches, why shouldn’t the Fins be confident? Ryan Tannehill got an early Christmas present with his two new toys in the offense.

Plan “B” for the Jets, No Cousins? They Move Up to #3 in the Draft:
The New York Jets made a huge pitch to sign Kirk Cousins in free agency and they failed to bring him in. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. Now they move on to their Plan B and it is to draft the best available quarterback.

So, on Saturday, the Jets moved from the 6th position to the #3 spot in the 2018 NFL Draft by trading for the Colts pick. But it won’t come cheap.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Jets are giving the Colts the sixth pick, the 37th overall selection, the 49th overall pick, and a 2019 second-round pick. That is some pretty steep compensation for sliding up just three spots. The Colts hit a homer there in terms of compensation.

By signing bridge QBs Josh McCown and Teddy Bridgewater, the Jets get to draft their QB of the future and groom him and allow him time to develop.With Buffalo thought to be ready to pick a QB at #6, the Jets have leapfrogged them and now are poised to pick ahead of the Bills. The next and most important question now becomes, WHO will be the Jets QB of the future with the #3 pick?

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Top Areas That the Patriots Must Address in Free Agency

Steve Balestrieri
March 7, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

Everyone was planted in front of a television over the weekend listening to Mike Mayock do his thing talking about the hundreds of NFL prospects over the weekend. And frankly, there is no one better. He puts an incredible amount of time preparing for the Combine and Draft and he and Rich Eisen are fantastic at what they do.

But before we get all gaga about players getting drafted and who going to get picked when and where free agency will have the most to say about what their true needs are to be addressed in the draft. Because free agency, or at least the vast majority of it will be done before the draft rolls around.

Then we’ll have a good idea of how Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio, and the staff will proceed. So, in a perfect world, the Patriots would get the majority of their problems worked out in free agency and then add pieces and depth during the draft and with undrafted free agents.

So when the league year opens at 4 pm on March 14. The Top 51 Rule takes effect and they’ll have to be under the salary cap and here are what we believe are the top few areas of need that they’ll have to address.

Resign Nate Solder and Add Another Tackle: This is numero uno, the big enchilada, the Patriots have to bring Solder back in the fold for at least 2018 but preferably for two years. Right now they have three of their top four tackles who are free agents. Solder, Cameron Fleming, and LaAdrian Waddle. Marcus Cannon remains on the roster but is coming off of IR in 2017.

Solder has been a very good left tackle and could continue to be on for the next couple of years. He’s had some injury and illness concerns but frankly, he’s the best option out there in free agency. The pickings are slim in free agency and it isn’t a great year for tackles in the draft. Solder is their best option out there and he won’t be cheap.

The depth the Patriots had at tackle served them well last year. Solder, Cannon, Fleming, and Waddle all played significant snaps. Waddle, in my opinion, is the better swing tackle than Fleming but he suffered a couple of injuries and Fleming’s performance in the Super Bowl may get him a nice payday. So if they can do it, the team should bring back Solder and one of the two. I was asked if Solder walked could they make do with Fleming, Waddle, and Cannon. I like their swing tackles but not as 16-game starters

They also have Cole Croston and Andrew Jelks who they kept around last year. The big question now is centered around Tony Garcia. They drafted him to be the possible successor to Solder but he suffered an illness that cost him 40 pounds and the entire season. Will he be ready to go, fully back to strength this summer? No one knows yet.

Extend Brady and Gronkowski to Keep Their Cap Hits Lower: The Patriots have a tad over $14 million in salary cap space as it now stands. They can generate some room by cutting a few players or re-doing their contracts. Alan Branch, Dwayne Allen, and Martellus Bennett are three players who will either be cut outright or have their deals done to limit their cap hit. But reworking the deals for Tom Brady especially and Rob Gronkowski if he decides to keep playing, will happen sooner rather than later.

They could get their salary cap up into the $30+ million dollar range with those moves, of which Solder will take up close to have of it (estimate? $12-13 million). That would still allow them to chase a medium priced free agent or two and still leave some room to sign their draft picks and leave some capital on the books for the invariable injuries which occur during the season.

And hopefully, in doing so, they can possibly lower the salary cap hits on Brady and Gronkowski for this year a little bit.

Get the Tight End Situation Sorted Out: As it stands right now, Gronkowski is contemplating retirement. Dwayne Allen is on the books for $5 million and Martellus Bennett is owed $6.2 million with a $2 million dollar roster bonus due on March 16. None of these scenarios are what the Patriots need to have right now.

According to Drew Rosenhaus, Gronk’s agent, he hasn’t made a decision one way or another about returning or retiring yet. Hopefully, that decision will come sooner rather than later as they can base their decisions, at least partly on whether or not to move on from Bennett or Allen or bring them back.

Regardless, neither of them will return for what they are owed right now. Both will have to take a big pay cut to remain on the team. I think they’ll cut ties completely with Allen and then make a decision on Bennett. Allen never became a factor in the passing game at all and they’ll look to move on. The Bennett situation will bear closer scrutiny.

The team has Jacob Hollister who showed good hands and the ability to stretch the seams of the defense a little bit but he’ll have to improve in the offense as well as a blocker too. The team also has Will Tye who has caught 95 passes in the NFL. He’ll get a longer look this summer.

Re-Sign Danny Amendola to a 2-Year Deal: This one is kind of a no-brainer. Amendola isn’t going to light the world on fire and catch 100 passes, or anything close. But when it comes to crunch time, he’s absolute money. His moniker of “Playoff Danny” has been well-earned. In the 2017 playoffs, he caught 26 passes for 348 yards in three games which averages out to 8.7 catches a game for 116 yards. That is pretty elite territory.

Amendola has the best hands on the team and always can be counted on the make the most difficult catches when games are on the line. He’s versatile and can also return punts and kickoffs if the need arises. And with Cyrus Jones being placed on IR along with Julian Edelman this past preseason, the need arose.

He won’t break the bank to keep around, but he has the absolute trust of Brady, something that can’t be overstated. The “circle of trust” is something very real with Brady and he was included in the offseason work with Edelman that was included in the “Tom vs Time” docuseries last season. The three went Brady’s body coach Alex Guerrero to Montana before training camp to work on their timing and chemistry.

Replace Dion Lewis in the Patriots Backfield: As more time passes, it seems Lewis is less and less likely to return in 2018. The Patriots set a low bar on what they pay their running backs and it quite possible that a team will pay Lewis more than the Patriots will spend. It is being tossed around that he’ll be garnering in the neighborhood of $6.5 million a year in 2018. If that is the case, color Lewis gone.

The Patriots will want to replace him with a back that can not only run but catch the ball out of the backfield, something that hamstrung Mike Gillislee last season. Gillislee ran well but could never break into the passing game. Opponents quickly learned that Gillislee would either run or pass block. With Lewis, Rex Burkhead and James White, they had to play a guessing game, making the offense much more difficult to stop.

Burkhead is also a free agent although one would have to assume that his asking price will be much more affordable than Lewis’ at this point. He has a much better chance at being retained at this point.

We heard thru the grapevine (a reliable grapevine) that with the Broncos expected to release C.J. Anderson soon, that the Patriots may make a move for him. Although it is doubtful, he commands any less than Lewis would. But that’s what we heard so, we’ll assume that it would be the case. A quick look at their numbers from 2017:
Lewis    – 180 carries,  896 yards, 5.0 avg. 6 TDs, 32 catches 214 yards, 3 TDs
Anderson – 245 carries, 1007 yards, 4.1 avg. 3 TDs, 28 catches 224 yards, 1 TD

I think this one could be nominally filled by resigning Burkhead and then drafting a young back who can catch and carry the ball. That is the Patriots usual M.O. The majority of the free agent running back class are filled with names that I don’t believe the team being interested in. But we shall see.

Adding Some Veteran Help on the Edge: The team should get back Dont’a Hightower, Derek Rivers, and Harvey Langi this season from Injured Reserve, That alone should help the play on the edge. Although in the case of last season’s rookies, Rivers, and Langi, the team really doesn’t know what they have in them yet.

What Bill Belichick likes to do is bring in established veterans. Guys who can set the edge, get after the passer a bit and not break the bank. They aren’t going after the high priced, high profile free agents. But a guy who can do these things and isn’t a “name” everyone clamors for. Who would this be?

Connor Barwin is an established veteran who has played well with the Eagles, Texans, and last season with Rams. He could step in, help the defense and still has some juice left in the tank. He’s the kind of player that the team may look at once free agency begins.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

The Patriots Should Bring Back Both LaAdrian Waddle, Cameron Fleming

Steve Balestrieri
February 24, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

Like the old saying goes…you can never have enough tackles or cornerbacks. And the Patriots were indeed fortunate to have the depth they enjoyed in 2017. They started the season with starters Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon in place. They drafted what they hope to be their left tackle of the future with Tony Garcia.

And they had returning swing tackle backups LaAdrian Waddle and Cam Fleming in place. It turned out all of those returning pieces were needed. Cannon was injured and placed on IR. Waddle stepped in and played very well. So well in fact, that they hardly missed a beat. He gave up a grand total of zero sacks on the season and seven QB hits in just under 350 offensive snaps this season.

Then Waddle got hurt and in stepped Fleming. He played very well in the playoffs and against the Eagles in the Super Bowl, he and Solder had very strong games. All four tackles played meaningful snaps during the season. And all, thanks to the superb coaching by Dante Scarnecchia, were very solid.

One need only look at some of the teams that struggled during the regular season, their offensive lines, particularly the tackle play was frequently a major issue. The Patriots not only used four but all of them did a good job overall during the season. They also have Cole Croston and Andrew Jelks who the team has high hopes for in the future as well as Garcia. Garcia, it turned out never took the field, he was on NFI list all season with an illness and we’ve read that he lost upwards of 40 pounds during the season.

Free Agency is Key to Continuity: Now three of those tackles are free agents. Solder, Waddle, and Fleming are all unrestricted free agents this spring. So the depth that they currently enjoy will be severely tested this spring.

We’ve already posted on how we feel about resigning Solder and what it may entail. You can re-read that here: In a perfect world, the Patriots would sign all three and enter the 2018 season intact again across the offensive line.

But they have to deal with the realistic scenario that Solder may either not return to the Patriots or retire this spring. Either could conceivably happen and if it does, then they have some decisions that they’ll be forced to make.

OL Cameron Fleming shares a laugh after practice. (SBalestrieri photo)

While both Waddle and Fleming have played well as spot starters, do they want them playing on the edge for 16+ games as starters? Probably not. Then they’d be forced to look at free agency (not a great crop) or the NFL draft to find his replacement. Why? Garcia is still an unknown commodity. They haven’t seen him play yet. Compounded with his current medical condition, he’s a big question mark right now. And then they’d be looking at how to deal with the talented duo of swing tackle backups.  

Why Waddle and Fleming Will Resign:  The Patriots will probably try to resign both Waddle and Fleming. As last year showed, they were both needed and they each showed themselves valuable enough to play an important if limited role in their success.

Neither probably has a large enough body of work to be seriously considered for a starting position on another team. Would another team tempt either away with enough cash and an opportunity to start? The odds are against it but never say never. As we mentioned above, the tackle play around the league varied, and some teams were just awful.

It probably won’t break the bank with guaranteed money to bring back either. Both have familiarity with the system and coaches and like it here (much to the chagrin of Lane Johnson).

The absence of a bunch of guaranteed money will still allow the trio of Jelks, Croston, and Garcia to develop but leaves the team in a very good position in the event that there are the inevitable injuries.

They may decide on just one and let the other walk,  and deciding that either Jelks, Croston or Garcia is worthy of backup snaps with a chance to start down the road. In which case it would be a difficult decision. While Waddle has played the better of the two, his injury history this season may give the team some pause.

But the key from a Patriots’ perspective begins with getting Solder back in the fold. If they are able to do that, then getting their swing tackles back will be a nice addition. I think it is a no-brainer that they’ll try to bring back at least one and possibly both Waddle and Fleming.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Free Agent Profile Nate Solder

Steve Balestrieri
February 14, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots will enter the beginning of the 2018 league season with several important decisions to make in regards to free agency. Among the veterans looking for a new deal are Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Nate Ebner and Matthew Slater.  There are other veterans such as Brandon Bolden, James Harrison, LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming who have played significant roles at times and have been limited in others.

While the team has a limited amount of cap space, right now… they should be retooling a few contracts or cutting their ties with some players soon which will create more cap space.

We’ll be doing profiles on each of the free agents in the upcoming days and give you our take on whether they return or move on. One of the key players facing free agency is left tackle Nate Solder.

This is where things begin to get very interesting. Solder, and backup tackles LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming are all free agents this spring. That means three out of the four tackles utilized by the team in 2017 could conceivably be gone in 2018.

The Patriots thought they drafted their left tackle of the future last spring when they took Antonio Garcia in the draft. But Garcia never stepped foot on the field and spent the season on the NFI (non-football injury list) as a result of an illness. Garcia is down to only about 260 pounds right now, so not only is there uncertainty about his playing ability because they really don’t know what they have in him yet but medically as well. Will he even be ready to go this summer? That is a lot of question marks pertaining to the guy who must protect Tom Brady’s blind side.

Why Solder Will Return: The Patriots drafted Solder in the first round, (17th overall) in 2011. He’s started 95 of 98 games he’s appeared in and has been pretty durable, playing thru a variety of ailments including testicular cancer a few years ago. He did have a torn bicep in 2015, where he missed the last 11 games.

The Patriots need Solder this upcoming season. They have capable backups in Waddle and Fleming, who can fill in for a game or two, but as starting left tackles? No. And with the dearth of tackles in free agency this season, they know they can’t lowball Solder’s offer too much or risk losing him.  

Solder is still a very good left tackle, there was some thought that he may opt for retirement but he probably has one or possibly two years left before he decides to hang it up. With questions regarding his heir apparent, the team will either have to draft another tackle (a definite possibility) or retain Solder for one more year. Solder has played in four Super Bowls protecting Tom Brady’s blindside and has the big game experience that the team wants. He’s a proven performer and the Patriots will probably be able to retain his services for about the same amount of cash he earned in 2017.

At 30 years old this fall, Solder still has plenty of tread left on the tires.

Why Solder Won’t Return: There are a couple of considerations to think about here. One is Solder was contemplating retirement according to some rumors this fall. His own health issues coupled with the return of cancer to his young son, reportedly had him thinking about possibly hanging it up. If so, that would be the one situation where he’d be adamant about not returning.

As we mentioned above, there is a lack of quality tackles hitting free agency this season. With Solder just about to turn 30 in April, he could command some very decent offers. One team in dire need of a tackle is the Denver Broncos, and Solder played his college football in Colorado. They’d love to steal Solder away from New England.

The Patriots aren’t in a great position salary cap wise, so they won’t be able to overspend for Solder or anyone else this spring unless they start cutting other players or redoing some of the other contracts out there.

Bottom Line: The Patriots would like to have Solder back this season and truth be told, much like Josh McDaniels, family considerations may play a very large part in Nate Solder’s decision to remain in New England or to leave either in free agency or retirement.

With his son going thru another bout of chemotherapy, he and wife may want to keep their family close to the doctors that have treated his son Hudson at Boston Children’s Hospital. They have trust in the staff there and tied to them in the community as well.

He’s a very well respected member of the team by both the players and coaches. The 6’8, the 320-pound left tackle has been very good since entering the NFL. He’s sure to generate plenty of interest from other teams. And a few may opt to throw big money dollars in his direction. There is a stipulation in his contract that he can’t be franchised, so, that option is off the table.

Our feeling here is that he will return to New England or retire. While we may be way off on this one (not like we are batting 1.000 on these things), that is how we see it playing out. I think if the Patriots offer him close to what he earned in 2017, then the chances of Solder returning are much better and seeing him in a Patriots uniform in 2018.

We feel that the chances of him returning to New England are better than 50/50 this summer. Somewhere around 60/40 in favor of him playing at least one more season protecting Brady. Now the question remains, who else (Waddle or Fleming) will the Patriots resign and will Garica be able to resume his football career, which means working himself back up to weight and gaining the 40-50 pounds he lost?

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots Voice Support For Nate Solder Following Walter Peyton Man of the Year Nomination

Robert Alvarez
December 31, 2017 at 4:00 am ET

As part of the NFL’s regular season awards, after every season an NFL player is honored for their volunteer and charity work, as well as their excellence on the field with the “Walter Peyton Man of the Year Award.”

Each season one player is nominated from each of the NFL’s 32 teams and the winner is selected from panel of judges, which includes the Commissioner of the NFL, Connie Payton (widow of Walter Payton), the previous year’s winner, and a number of former players select the winner of the award.

In 2017, the NFL added new incentives that allow fans to take part in the selection process.

According to the league, “Fans are encouraged to post #WPMOYChallenge and their favorite nominee’s last name on social media between Dec. 11 and Jan. 7. The nominee who receives the most hashtag mentions will win an additional $25,000 donation to his charity of choice from Nationwide, the runner-up will receive $10,000 and the third-place winner will receive $5,000

The New England Patriots nominee for 2017 is tackle Nate Solder and various teammates came out to show support and campaign for him with social media postings sharing personal tributes for his hard work and dedication. You can checkout this detailed story by Patriots.com writer Angelique Fiske that povides six reasons as to why he should be selected and some background on Solder’s young son’s battle with cancer.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BdQ92J4BYas/?taken-by=tombrady

Six For Saturday: Rams Taking a Page From Brady?

Ian Logue
December 2, 2017 at 12:14 pm ET

With Sunday’s match-up with the Bills steadily approaching, here are some thoughts on this Saturday from some interesting stories this week, along with some other tidbits heading into their match-up against Buffalo on Sunday.

1) Rams Taking a Page From Brady? – With the Rams sitting at 8-3 on the season, part of the discussion this week has centered around the success of their offense and how effective they’ve been in moving the football and scoring points.

Part of what Los Angeles has been doing seems to involve taking advantage of the communication that quarterbacks and coaches are allotted prior to the snap, where they’re allowed to communicate until there’s 15 seconds remaining on the play clock.

As noted by USA Today earlier this week, the Rams have been aggressive on offense, getting to the line quickly to give themselves more time to evaluate the defense from the sideline.  From there, head coach Sean McVay is discussing what to do and helping Jared Goff make the necessary audibles to put their team in the best situation.

It’s been a great strategy, and it’s obviously working.  The Rams have won five of their last six games and are putting themselves in terrific position to make a playoff run.

What was interesting about that story is what we learned back in February, which saw Tom Brady discuss this with Peter King in a Podcast following their historic Super Bowl win over the Falcons.  King questioned the veteran quarterback, asking him about whether or not he and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels communicate all the way up until the 15-second cutoff and the ways they take advantage of it.

The topic came up as King inquired about a play to Danny Amendola during the game, highlighting how they utilized the time before the communication cutoff, along with the types of things that McDaniels tells him leading up to the snap.

“I don’t remember exactly…because there were a lot of times where [he said] ‘Get them in this formation’, ‘Could be man coverage’, when he sees the corner go inside.  ‘You have one-on-one outside’, things like that, which is a great thing to do,” Brady told King.  “Part of the advantage of going fast is the coach-to-quarterback communication.  So I don’t remember exactly what happened on that play, other than i think he obviously said, ‘Don’t forget about Danny’, or ‘Danny’s got a great shot on this’, something like that.”

That mention gave some insight into how the offense operates, and it highlighted the benefit of speeding things up by going no-huddle.  That interview happened to reveal that it allows for two perspectives leading up to a play, which certainly provides an advantage to be able to put themselves in the best situation before the snap.

Here in New England it’s no secret there have been plenty of fans around the league who question what makes the Patriots so great.  However, those of us who follow the team more closely simply realize they’re coached by one of the best in the game in Bill Belichick, who has always seemingly been a fan of taking advantage of every inch the league allows, and they make the most of every single one.

Clearly it works and from what we learned this week, it sounds like the Rams are having success with it as well.

2) Tuesdays Now Have a New Meaning – An article by Nora Princiotti of the Boston Globe on Monday certainly changed the way I now view Tuesdays, as well as the amazing amount of respect and empathy I feel for Patriots left tackle Nate Solder, and his wife, Lexi.

Many fans may have already heard about the horrible news surrounding their son, Hudson, who was diagnosed with kidney cancer as an infant.  The two reportedly found a lump in his belly while giving him a bath, which prompted an immediate trip to his pediatrician.

That was when Solder and his wife learned the news, which ultimately turned their world upside down.

For Solder, that was another blow after he himself had already been diagnosed and undergone treatment for testicular cancer.  The veteran left tackle ended up with a happy ending for himself, as he was able to beat it.  Now he finds himself in a situation most parents fear, with he and Lexi forced to be strong to get through while watching their 2-year old son fight a battle of his own.

Hudson’s illness now requires the young parents to make the trip to Boston every Tuesday, which is an off day for the players.  According to Princiotti, the two depart at 6am for a two hour trip so that Hudson can get his treatments.  Also joining them is their 7th month old daughter, Charlie, and Lexi told the newspaper that they try and make the best of it.

“We do it all together as a family so when we look back years and years from now we can say we did it and she was there and we were all part of that,” said Lexi.

The worst part about the story is the fact that as of last October, the news appeared to be positive as Hudson’s tumors had shrunk to the point where he no longer needed treatment, just monitoring.

Unfortunately this past September, a routine MRI reportedly showed that all of the tumors in each of his Kidneys had started growing again and he started treatment again on October 3rd.

So for those who may get on Solder for a miscue during the game while wondering why he’s not out there performing flawlessly, the fact he’s out there doing it at all is impressive in itself.  And now when you wake up every Tuesday morning, think of how the Solders are spending their day and pray that that their son will one day be able to live a cancer-free life.


Garoppolo will finally start on Sunday in Chicago.

3) It’s Jimmy Time in San Francisco – Jimmy Garoppolo may have only spent just over 60 seconds on the field last weekend against Seattle, but he certainly made the most of it.

Garoppolo came into the game after C.J. Beathard went down with an injury and completed two passes, the final of which was a touchdown pass as time expired.  San Francisco was trailing 24-6 before the touchdown, so the game was clearly out of hand at that point.  But Garoppolo played like he always did here, giving his all while not just going through the motions.

His touchdown provided a spark in the Bay Area and it was all 49ers fans needed to see from the player they believe will guide them back to their former Glory.  It appears they’ll get their first opportunity this week to see Garoppolo spend 60-minutes on the field on the road against the Chicago Bears.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan said this week that they’ve scaled things back offensively heading into Garoppolo’s first start, and said that if there’s anything he’s not comfortable with, they’ll change it.

“He’ll work at it all week and whatever he doesn’t feel comfortable with and he doesn’t get down in these three practices, then we’ll take it out and whatever we’re going with Sunday, he’ll know 100 percent of it,” Shanahan said. “I want him to feel real comfortable going into this game. So, we’ll see how he feels at the end of the week.”

Garoppolo finds himself in a position where how he plays over this final stretch will certainly have an impact on his future.  If he plays like he did during his limited time as a starter last season for the Patriots, it will bode well for a team that has been in dire need of a talented and dependable starting quarterback.

For now, Garoppolo admits that he’s not worried about what his future holds and he knows it won’t mean anything unless he plays well this week.

“I’m trying not to think about the future too much,” Garoppolo said. “I’ve learned in the past that when your mind wanders like that, quarterbacking in this league is hard enough. So, when you start thinking about other things you’re going to have a tough time. I think just staying focused on the Bears this week.”


Manning’s time in New York appears to be over. (USA TODAY Images)

4) Manning Situation Makes You Wonder About Brady’s Future – Seeing what happened in New York this week was a harsh reminder that the ending is not always happy when it comes to teams and their aging starting quarterbacks parting ways.

One of the things that obviously comes to mind with Manning’s situation is the fact that it’s hard not to wonder about how the Patriots will eventually handle parting with Brady.  That would be hard to imagine, and if what we’ve seen is any indication, it looks like it might hopefully be a while before it reaches that point.

But what’s been interesting here in New England has been the fact that most aging players who have opted to retire, many have done so on their own accord.  Players like Troy Brown, Rodney Harrison, Tedy Bruschi and Rob Ninkovich are just a few examples of guys who as soon as they felt they couldn’t do it anymore, they hung up their cleats and left with some level of dignity.  Even a player like Vince Wilfork, who while he didn’t finish his career in New England, he still went on to play at a relatively high level in Houston while playing a part in that group being one of the best defensive units in the league.  Wilfork’s end had a special twist as he had the rare satisfaction of ending his career on the same field he started on, with his final career game coming in a playoff loss for the Texans in January at Gillette Stadium.

With Manning, he’s in a bad situation because he’s on a team that’s been decimated by injuries this season, preventing him from improving off a year where they finished 11-5 before getting blown out 38-13 against the Packers in the Wild Card round last season.  At 36-years old and with the team at 2-9, the Giants apparently feel like they’ve already gotten his best, and now they’re ready to move on.

By sitting Manning and putting their immediate future in the hands of Gino Smith or Davis Webb, they’ve now put themselves on a collision course for a divorce from their franchise quarterback this offseason, ending one of the longest remaining current tenures for a starting QB remaining in the NFL, along with ending Manning’s 210 game streak as an NFL starting QB.  With that streak coming to an end, it now gives the Chargers Phillip Rivers, who has started 188 straight games, a chance to surpass him.

Change is the only thing that’s consistent in this league and unfortunately, for Manning that’s just how it is and he appears to be a player who will make the offseason a little more interesting by giving it a shot with another franchise.

As for Brady, hopefully he’ll be able to go out the same way that  John Elway did, with Elway having walked away after leading Denver to back-to-back Super Bowls.  Elway’s situation was a little different, but only because he had taken a bigger beating than Brady and realized his body didn’t have enough left to come back one more time.  He wanted to go for three in a row, but didn’t feel he could do it.

Meanwhile, Brady finds himself playing well while putting his team in position to contend for another this season.  Hopefully he’ll be able to go out in similar fashion as Elway, while edging out the former Denver QB with a little longer championship streak of his own.

5) NFL Getting Help From Amazon – An interesting note in the New York Times this week revealed that the National Football League will be working with Amazon to try and improve the analysis of the league’s games by using some of the online retail giant’s technology.

According to the newspaper, the NFL, which already uses Amazon’s cloud computing services, is planning on using the company’s advanced machine-learning technology, which recognizes patterns and analyzes data captured during the games.  They believe that data will help provide new kinds of statistics for fans as well as help coaches.

Amazon will also reportedly become an official technology sponsor of the NFL’s Next Gen Stats, which already offers some unique stats via their official site.

It makes for an interesting situation and it’s another sign that things are continuing to evolve when it comes to the way we currently consume football.  The league has already had plenty of success with their own GamePass service, which has grown and in recent years added coaches film, increasing fan interest in evaluating plays after the game.  It’s continued to grow, becoming a popular product that the league claims to have subscription rates in the “six figures”.  With a powerful partner like Amazon, for those who are into analysis and breakdowns, this will definitely be a story to keep an eye on to see what additional products they come out with.


Brady’s first quarter numbers have been terrific so far this season.

6) Fast start will be key on Sunday – With the Patriots about to play on the road out in Buffalo, one of the areas that will certainly be important will be for the team to get off to a fast start, which they did when these two met last season in their second meeting.

In that game Tom Brady opened with a first quarter that saw him complete 8-of-11 passes including two touchdowns, as the Patriots went on to build a 24-10 first half lead that they wouldn’t relinquish as they beat the Bills in Buffalo 41-25.

Fortunately, that’s one of the areas where Brady has excelled this season.  The first quarter has been his best statistically this season, with the veteran completing 73% of his passes, including 7 touchdowns.  He hasn’t thrown more than three incompletions in the opening quarter over his last six games, which included an 11-of-11 performance two weeks ago against Oakland.  That essentially means you have to go all the way back to their match-up against the Buccaneers in Week 5 when he missed four passes by starting 8-of-12.

One of the other notable stats is the fact he’s thrown at least one touchdown in the opening quarter over each of the last three games, which was preceded by a stretch where he didn’t throw a first quarter TD in five-straight contests that started in their loss to Carolina in Week 4.

For now with their first game in December looming, the goal is to try and finish strong against a Bills team that will likely be a tough challenge.

“It’s so important,” said Brady when asked about finishing the season off strong. “I think Coach [Bill] Belichick said it best the other day. He said whether you’re 5-5 at this point or 10-0, it really depends on what we do going forward because I was here in 2001 when we were 5-5 and we ended up not losing a game after that.”

“A few years ago we were 10-0 and the season didn’t end very well. I think so much of your season is dependent on how we’re going to do at this point moving forward. We put ourselves in decent position but we’re going to have to go capitalize.”