New York Giants Mailbag: Memories, Nate Solder, and Playing Tag

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What’s up, Joseph? So the way the franchise tag works is if a player was tagged once before, if he gets tagged again, his tag amount is whatever the projected tag is or 120% of what he earned the previous year, whichever was higher. 

So in Leonard Williams' case, if he’s franchised, his amount due wouldn’t be reduced given the drop in the salary cap; rather, he'd be owed a 20% raise on what he earned last year.

Hey Brian, I hope you’re keeping warm and safe. All has been quiet on the Solder front, but my gut feeling is the two sides part ways.

If he returns, I don’t know how practical a move to right tackle would be since he hasn’t played the position since his rookie season. If I’m the Giants, I look to go younger at that spot if Matt Peart isn’t my answer.

As for Solder's potential cap hit, check out this article, as I don’t see why the Giants and Solder can’t enter into a similar arrangement as what the Saints and Drew Brees entered into.

From Rafael G.

I am wondering why no one has offered the advice that the Giants should give Leonard Williams the transition tag instead of the franchise tag. What are your thoughts and why isn't this idea presented More Often by other writers?

Hi Rafael. Last year I was banging the drum for the Giants to apply the transition tag on Williams because the Giants were in a little different scenario than they are this year. But after the year he had, I think placing the transition tag on him is inviting another team with cap space to come swooshing in and scoop him up, leaving the Giants with no chance of matching.

The other thing is it's not a good idea to let the market set the asking price. If you can get a watermelon for 50 cents per pound from the local farmer's market, and then some rich person comes along and offers $1.00 per pound, you just lost out on what you probably thought was a fair market price. 

You are also assuming that the Giants would get a comp pick if they used the transition tag if they lose Williams. Again, that’s not set in stone. What happens if the Giants sign more players than they lose or sign a big-money receiver who cancels out the Williams transaction?

No, in this case, you use the franchise tag, and you hope that you can come to a new long-term deal that lowers that first year’s cap hit. (I will have a proposed contract that does just that online later today.)

From Matt L.

The 18 Feb 2021 podcast was absolutely painful – like you don’t know! What a great look back at our storied Giants history!  Thanks for the look back at some great memories!

Thanks Matt. That podcast theme was actually suggested by a listener so I figured it's best to get it out of the way. 

I don't know if it was evident in my voice, but a few times I had to stop recording to compose myself in recalling some of those gut punches. Anyway, given the subject matter, I'm glad you enjoyed the podcast.

From Jon H.

The Giants are going to need a swing tackle and are going to owe Nate Solder at least $6.5 million no matter what. If he's game, is it possible they sign him to a restructured deal for around $6.5 and heavy with incentives? 

Hi Jon. I touched a bit earlier on this topic in the mailbag, but again, I would be surprised if the Giants roll with Nate Solder at right tackle. I know last year I had proposed he pay right tackle and Thomas play left, but then I backed off that after a few offensive line specialists explained why that wouldn't be a prudent move.

And anyway, I’m not convinced he even desires to come back, though to be clear, no one has said anything official. People seem to think it’s easy to flip sides on the offensive line—it’s not. And if I’m the Giants, I make it a point to get younger on that group, if possible.

From Jordan U.

I guess you'd call me a long-time listener, first time emailer. I enjoy listening to your podcasts, and I just was able to listen to last Thursday's trip down memory lane about best Giants victories...many of my favorite victories are tied up with some personal memories as well. I hope you'll let me "wax" a bit:

First, that Week 11 game in 1986, which you talked about really sticks out in my mind as well. Back in those days, my dad videotaped each game to send to my uncle who lived in Ohio and couldn't get the games...he had just come back from a trip with my mom and didn't see the game live, but one of the first things he did was pop that tape in and watch it with me. 

Right before 4th and 17, he had turned it off, thinking that the game was over. I'd already seen it, and I remember shouting, "Wait! Dad! Don't turn it off!" I also remember this being the game where we thought that this team was going to be something special.

Here are some other notable non-playoff victories:

  • 2011, Week 17 - This was the "win-or-go-home" game against the Cowboys. Winner wins the division, loser goes home. I was lucky enough to be at this game, and I remember the electricity in the crowd was unbelievable. When Cruz had that early 74-yard TD, I don't ever remember it being that loud in MetLife. He also had that jump ball catch later in the game that all but sealed it for the Giants.
  • 2011, Week 3 - This was Victor Cruz's "coming out game," where he had the long TD, and then another one later in the game. This game was particularly satisfying because the Eagles this year had assembled that self-styled "Dream Team," and it's always nice to stick it to the Eagles. I also was fortunate enough to be in the stands for this one as well. My recollection of Eagles' fans is not entirely negative - they are just as hard on their team as they are on the opposing one. I remember that late in the game, ex-Giants receiver Steve Smith who was now playing for the Eagles had a pass bounce off his hands for an INT. The Eagles fan sitting next to me started shouting "Double agent! He's a double agent!" I had a good laugh at that one.

And one more "under-the-radar" one:

  • 1998, Week 15 - The Giants were going nowhere this season and the undefeated Broncos were coming to town. I remember listening to this game on the radio as I was driving home from college. The game was coming in and out of static, and I was able to hear just enough to wonder how the Giants were keeping it so close. I made it home just in time to see Kent Graham connect with Amani Toomer on the go-ahead TD with a minute left. In a season where not much went right, it was still pretty satisfying to see the G-Men send the champs packing.

Anyway, I bet I could come up with a lot more...but you know what's funny? As much as the victories, I also remember those gut-punch losses. I bet you could fill a couple of podcasts up with those as well. Anyway, I'm looking forward to the content you'll have for us as we look forward to the draft! Keep up the great work and as always, Go Giants!

Pat Says: Thanks for sharing your memories, Jordan—and thanks to you I was inspired to do the “gut punch” episode this past week. That one was a tough pill to swallow, so listen at your own risk. 

And yes, I remember your three favorite memories. I covered all three of them and remember them well now that you mentioned them.  

From Donald S.

I believe Kevin Zeitler is a solid Guard but is overpaid; I believe he will make $12 million. Why do the Giants have to choose between keeping him at that salary or cutting him? If in fact Zeitler understands the market and realizes that as a free agent he won't get a $12 million dollar offer, can't the Giants and Zeitler make a new deal that keeps him on the team for less money? The Giants need a solid O-lineman and Zeitler will need a contract if the Giants are not willing to pay him $12 million. 

Thanks for the question, Donald. I suppose the Giants could approach Kevin Zeitler about a pay cut, but on what grounds do they justify it? He was their best offensive lineman last year, right? So normally, you don't ask people who performed to take a pay cut.

That said, I keep going back and forth on this one. I want the Giants to keep Zeitler but not extend his deal and the potential for dead money to lower the cap number.

I think the Giants will instead look to extend James Bradberry and/or Blake Martinez, both of whom played well, and two contacts where it makes more sense to restructure/extend than it does Zeitler's deal.


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