Patriots gridiron news: Nate Solder worth protecting Tom Brady’s blindside

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Nate Solder
FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 24: Nate Solder /

New England Patriots left tackle Nate Solder plans to play next season and his value is heating up around the NFL.

If the New England Patriots could only bring back one of their unrestricted free agents, that one player has to be left tackle Nate Solder.

As reported by Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, Solder does continue to play football next season and beyond.  That revelation answers questions surrounding rumors of his possible retirement following the Super Bowl.  It also sets up an interesting offseason between the 29-year-old veteran left tackle and the Patriots.

Without the doubt, the team will make re-signing Solder a top priority in free agency.  Not only does he stabilize the left side of the offensive line, he adds veteran leadership to the unit and has spent the last eight seasons protecting Tom Brady’s blindside.

For that reason alone, Nate Solder is worth whatever money it will take to keep the 40-year-old franchise quarterback upright.

He is also coming off some of his best football as he was solid towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.  The interesting part is Solder should draw a lot of interest around the league.

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Will he bolt for more money or will he be willing to take less to play for a team and in an area he has become very important to.  The New England Patriots should have leverage here.  Because of his relationship with the organization and the importance of staying in the area for personal reasons, Solder will likely re-sign if the offer is fair and it should be.

So far, however, negotiations have not started between the two sides, but it was unknown until Thursday whether he was even going to return to football.

Antonio Garcia suffered from blood clots in his lungs

Last year’s third-round pick Antonio Garcia missed the entire 2017 season with what has been diagnosed as blood clots in his lungs.

Due to the ailment, he has lost 40 pounds and is now on the road to recovery and getting back on the football field.  Because there is no timeline for when he will be back to full strength and able to contribute, re-signing Nate Solder becomes all that more important.

With backup tackles Cameron Fleming and LaAdrian Waddle also entering free agency, Garcia’s development normally would’ve been of high importance.  Due to his non-football illness, the team will have to address the tackle position in either re-signing at least two of the three tackles and through the draft.

Next: Patriots gridiron news: Yes, Bill Belichick should go get Aqib Talib

Another reason this offseason has become a very interesting one for the New England Patriots.