The New York Giants officially signed Nate Solder Thursday to a four-year, $62 million deal that makes him the NFL’s highest paid left tackle. Solder, who played in four Super Bowls for the New England Patriots, will obviously be the Giants’ starting left tackle. But where does that leave former first-round pick Ereck Flowers?
Flowers, the ninth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Miami (Fla.), started 46 games at the left tackle position in his three NFL seasons. He has struggled to protect Eli Manning’s blind side during his tenure with the Giants. Flowers also had issues off the field.
He and former teammate Bobby Hart were pariahs in the offensive line room. Flowers, who is reportedly a man of few words, did not do himself any favors when he got into an argument with an ESPN reporter that ended with the reporter being shoved into a locker.
The final straw appeared to be when Flowers and Hart both told coaches they couldn’t play in the regular season finale against the Washington Redskins. Some believed that both players weren’t injured. They simply didn’t want to finish an awful season and checked out early.
Hart was waived the day before the Redskins game while Flowers was benched. Without them in the lineup, the Giants ran for a season-high 261 yards in the 18-10 victory.
Hart ultimately signed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Flowers’ future with the Giants has been up in the air pretty much since Dave Gettleman was installed as general manager Dec. 29. After all, one of Gettleman’s first acts as GM was waiving/benching the mercurial offensive linemen.
Flowers is not the Giants’ starting left tackle anymore. However, he still remains on the team. In fact, he’s going to have an opportunity at to start at the right tackle position. Flowers did play some right tackle at the U. His main competition will be Adam Bisnowaty and Chad Wheeler, who are both entering their second season.
“As soon as we announced the signing of Nate, (head coach) Pat (Shurmur) spoke with Ereck,” Gettleman said in a statement announcing Solder’s deal. “He called him on the phone to talk to him and said, ‘Listen, we’re going to move you to right, and at the end of the day, the five best offensive linemen play.’ That’s where they left it, and Ereck was fine on the phone.”
The Giants still have faith that Flowers can compete for a starting job.
“Absolutely,” Gettleman said when asked if Flowers can make a successful transition to the right tackle spot. “He’s a big, strong, powerful kid, and it’s just a matter of getting used to playing over there.”
Flowers will make $2.4 million in 2018, the final year of his rookie deal.