Given the short careers and long-term health issues associated with playing in the NFL, overpayment is a touchy issue. The vast majority of players in the league are, if anything, underpaid for their services. But that isn’t to say that, among the elite players in the league, there aren’t more than a few bad deals for owners out there.
A statistical anomaly of a season can lead to massively overvaluing players. Sometimes there are players who never quite reach the potential that they once exhibited before draft day. And once in a while, an NFL franchise simply drives up a truckload of cash to a player for reasons known only to themselves. One player, according to one particular outlet, is the worst deal of them all: Offensive lineman Nate Solder.
Why Nate Solder is the most overpaid player in the NFL
Whether there will even be live crowds for NFL games during the COVID-19 pandemic remains an open question. NFL teams make big earnings from media deals, but selling out stadiums is a major revenue stream that might be absent entirely. That’s in part what has player salaries on so many people’s minds lately.
CBS Sports broke down which players enjoy the most overpriced contracts in the league. Some, like defensive end Olivier Vernon, were apparently recognized by the team. They restructured his deal, from $15 million down to $11 million, and he’ll be cut loose after 2020.
New York Giants offensive tackle Solder rushed to the top of the pack. Much of the talk around the team’s 2019 struggles centered on fledgling QB Daniel Jones. CBS Sports reports that Solder was actually a big reason why Jones spent so much time being run down, snap after snap.
Solder debits the team’s cap for a cool $19.5 million, while mainly serving to make a fresh-faced QB’s life miserable. Meanwhile, the Giants drafted Andrew Thomas as a potential replacement for Solder, according to their official team blog.
Nate Solder’s two-time Super Bowl championship run with the New England Patriots
The Denver Post reports that Nate Solder was a consensus All-American in 2010. That earned him a first-round pick with the Patriots, and rightfully so. He helped the team to a Super Bowl appearance in 2011, a losing effort against the Giants.
By 2014, he helped New England to a Super Bowl win. The next season, a bicep injury unceremoniously benched him. He got another shot at the big game in 2016, and the Tom Brady-led Patriots pulled off another win. He was rarely a pivotal player in these games, but showed a certain dependability across many seasons.
How the New York Giants came to sign a big-money contract with Solder
Solder’s ability to work within Bill Belichick’s notoriously demanding system implied a great deal to teams looking to shore up their offense. He appeared in all 16 games of his final season with New England, according to Pro Football Reference. The Giants, looking at the end of QB Eli Manning’s time, needed dependable players.
So why not acquire a free agent, with years of experience playing on the biggest stage, like Solder? The problem comes with the contract. That $19.5 million was eye-popping for an offensive lineman, no matter how good.
Solder wasn’t exceptional, so much as consistent. His outright decline couldn’t be predicted, but even if he stayed steady, it was probably too much. Jones needs to get better, but Solder has been so bad that the young QB barely has the chance.