Nate Solder expected to report to Giants camp despite son’s cancer battle
Nate Solder has indicated to the Giants he will arrive this week for COVID-19 testing, beginning the process of acclimating to the most unusual training camp of his 10-year NFL career.
Several prominent players throughout the league decided to opt-out of their contract for this season, citing concerns with playing football amid the coronavirus pandemic, based on personal and/or family factors.
Solder, 32, surely had a difficult decision to make. His son, Hudson, at three months old was diagnosed with cancerous tumors in his kidneys and it has been a four-year battle for the Solder family. Nate, his wife Lexi and Hudson traveled from New Jersey to Boston on Tuesdays last the season – Solder’s second with the Giants – for chemotherapy sessions.
Groups of veteran Giants players arrived Tuesday for COVID-19 testing, beginning a five-day process before they can actually get on the field to start training camp. Solder was not in that group – he was in Boston for an appointment for Hudson – and is expected to report Wednesday.
Solder is the Giants’ player representative to the NFL Players Association and thus was briefed on the negotiations with the league to prepare for the season while installing COVID-19 protocols. Back on July 10, Solder tweeted “If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep players healthy there is no football in 2020. It’s that simple.”
Solder’s intention to report, and not opt out, is an indication he deems the safety precautions to be acceptable. Otherwise, he would not put is son, with a compromised immune system, in harm’s way.
Players can opt-out and receive a stipend for the 2020 season. Those NFL players considered high-risk to COVID-19 receive a $350,000 stipend, plus an accrued season toward free agency, if they opt out. Players without risk who choose to opt out receive $150,000, with no accrued season. Players must decide to opt out by next week.
The Patriots had six players opt out, including starters Patrick Chung (his wife is expecting a child), Marcus Cannon (he is a cancer survivor) and Don’t’a Hightower (he recently became a father and his mother is a diabetic).
Teams must offer separate housing to a player who has a high-risk person living with them. Solder certainly is in this category.
Solder, set to make $9.9 million in base salary and count $19.5 million on the 2020 salary cap, is coming off a rough season as the starting left tackle. The Giants in late April drafted his eventual replacement, Andrew Thomas, although for this season it is likely Solder remains at left tackle and Thomas embarks on his NFL career at right tackle.
Joe Judge, the Giants’ first-year head coach, was with Solder for eight years with the Patriots and recently told The Post “I believe in Nate Solder. I’m happy Nate Solder is here. I’m very excited to have Nate on the team.”
Outside linebacker Markus Golden is attending to some personal matters and is expected to report soon. Golden, 29, led the Giants in sacks last season with 10 but did not find a fertile market in free agency. The Giants used the rare unrestricted free agent tender on him, and, with no other team making him an offer, Golden will play for the Giants for $4.12 million, or else must sit out. Golden is expected to arrive, sign the tender and return to the team that helped him reinvigorate his career.