Buccaneers 2018 Free Agency Spotlight: Left Tackle, Nate Solder
By Brian DeFeo
Could the Buccaneers use an upgrade on their offensive line? There are some options they can target this off-season. Today, we look at New England Patriots left tackle, Nate Solder.
In 2017 the Buccaneers offensive line was below average, which is the nicest way I can put it. However, they are either still young and developing, recovering from serious injury or adapting to a new position. While Donovan Smith has been Jameis Winston‘s left tackle for his entire career. While he’s a big mauler he’s on the slower side and is prone to getting penalized. If the Buccaneers think they can improve at the position, Nate Solder could be a target in this year’s free agency?
Nate Solder’s Career
The New England Patriots drafted back in 2011 with the 17th overall pick, a pick they received from Oakland Raiders in the trade for Richard Seymour. The highest selection the Patriots made since 2008. He was a four year player at the University of Colorado where he started as a tight end and moved to tackle his sophomore year. Nate grew two inches and gained 75 pounds in his transition to tackle. He was a fourth-team All-American and proved to be worthy of a first-round pick.
At his time in New England, he’s been fairly healthy starting in at least fifteen games in six of his seven seasons. In 2015 he tore his bicep in week five and missed the remainder of the season, but came back and played fifteen games in 2016.
In April 2015 he was diagnosed with testicular cancer after his team physical. He has since been cured and only missed a few weeks of offseason activities.
Why the Buccaneers Need Him
It’s not may not be as obvious of a need as the defensive line but the offensive line is crucial to the team’s success. The offensive line isn’t anything to write home about but they’ve given up too many sacks for Winston to succeed. They aren’t bad as run blocking unit and with an improved running back core they could definitely move up the ranks that way. However, Donovan Smith while popular in the locker room and social media he’s been one of the least productive members on the line.
Solder has been protecting Tom Brady‘s blindside for most of his career and has been effective doing so. The Pats line has always been an easily criticized parts of the team but Solder is one of their better linemen. Recording an 83.2 run-blocking grade by Pro-Football Focus. Donovan Smith has been inconsistent throughout his career and has given up more pressures than he should and needs to improve or he’ll be gone.
What Will Solder Cost?
Solder is the best Left Tackle on the market right now and with the importance of his position he will have a hefty price tag. According to Spotrac he will be valued at around $13 million per year. The Buccaneers have the money to make this move but it may not be the smartest move if the Bucs want to bring back their main core back next season. He’s entering his thirties but primes for offensive linemen can be longer than most.
Will it Happen?
I don’t believe the cost for him will be worth the production he will put out on the field but he will be an improvement over Donovan Smith. The Buccaneers are likely to keep him for another season and move on or extend him next season. The Buccaneers aren’t going to find a better option in Free Agency than what they believe they have so this looks like one of the least likely signings this off-season. Most teams don’t just move on from their left tackles either if they believe they can still produce, especially the Patriots.
Next: Free Agent Spotlight - Ziggy Ansah
Make sure to keep following our Free Agency spotlight and look at more targets the Bucs could acquire this off-season. Sound off on Twitter and Facebook if you would like to see Nate Solder on the Buccaneers.