8:56am: Solder’s first two seasons are fully guaranteed, according to Rapoport (Twitter link). The tackle’s 2015 salary had already been guaranteed, so it sounds like the team added a fully guaranteed 2016 season on top of that. Meanwhile, Albert Breer of the NFL Network tweets that the deal includes $500K in annual Pro Bowl incentives, up to $1.5MM.
8:52am: The Patriots have locked up the man who will be protecting Tom Brady‘s blind side this year for an additional two seasons, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.com, who reports (via Twitter) that the team has extended left tackle Nate Solder through the 2017 season. Per Schefter, it’s a two-year, $20.062MM extension.
Solder, 27, was selected 17th overall by the Patriots in the 2011 draft, and after a year at right tackle, he has spent the last three seasons on the left side of New England’s offensive line. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Solder wasn’t quite as effective last year as a pass blocker as he has been in years past, and he graded as about a middle-of-the-pack offensive tackle. However, PFF ranked him among the league’s top 20 tackles in 2012 and among the top 10 in 2013.
Solder’s contract, which features a fifth-year option for 2015, had been set to expire at the end of this season, so getting him under contract at about $10MM per free agent year looks like a smart deal for the Pats. Washington’s left tackle, Trent Williams, recently inked an extension worth $13MM+ annually, so New England got a bit of a discount on the going rate for the position.
Still, the team is paying a potentially steep price at the end of the deal — according to Schefter (via Twitter), as part of the agreement, the Patriots can’t use their franchise or transition tag on Solder after the 2017 season. The Colorado product will only be 29 at the end of his new contract, so it’s very possible that he’s still playing at a high level at that point. To retain him beyond 2017, the Pats would have to work out a new deal, without the leverage of the franchise tag at their disposal.
Additionally, the extension includes a large chunk of guaranteed money, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, who tweets that Solder is getting $20MM guaranteed. It’s not clear if that amount is fully guaranteed, or if it includes his $7.438MM salary, which was already guaranteed. But either way, it sounds like a solid short-term commitment for Solder and the Pats.