BOSTON (CBS) - Here in Boston, lost in the fray of Red Sox spring training, the NBA trade deadline and all the injuries and needs of the Boston Bruins lies the New England Patriots who, you know, just won a Super Bowl and all.
With the NFL Combine behind us, all attention shifts towards free agency and the draft. The Patriots have some key free agent decisions this offseason, including secondary-mates Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty, but also left tackle Nate Solder.
Nate Solder's 2015 salary ($7.483 million) becomes fully guaranteed on March 10, so that decision facing the Patriots is one they'll need to make soon.
How should the Patriots handle it? Is Nate Solder a top five, or even a top 10 left tackle in the NFL? His offensive line coach thinks he's one of the elites!
In a recent article by The MMQB's Greg Bedard, also a frequent contributor on Felger & Mazz, Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo sang the praises of Solder when he spoke with Bedard in the week leading up to the Super Bowl.
"I believe he's one of the best left tackles in the NFL. And I see enough tape in film study to know what I'm talking about in that regard. I wouldn't trade him for another left tackle in the league, I really wouldn't. I mean the only guy, and I've told him this, that is in his league in my opinion with the combination of skills and movement and power is Tyron Smith in Dallas. I don't want to hear about [Denver's Ryan] Clady, [Cleveland's] Joe Thomas, I don't want to hear about any of them. [Eagles' Jason] Peters is sloppy. I'd take Nate Solder over all those guys, and I've told him that."
Nothing wrong with a coach backing one of his guys, but here's the problem:
- Joe Thomas makes $11.5 million per year
- Ryan Clady makes $10.5 million per year
- Jason Peters makes $9.75 million per year
"[Solder's] agent David Dunn definitely has Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo on his Christmas card list," Marc Bertrand said in jest.
"You wonder why Bill Belichick doesn't allow his coaches to speak that much," added Scott Zolak.
So if the Patriots hope to sign Nate Solder to a long-term extension, they'll have to pay him accordingly. The question is: what is he worth, and is Nate Solder an elite NFL left tackle?
"Do you want to pay him $7.4 million? Because I don't. I don't want that number. That number is too high for me. Too high for my taste," said Bertrand. "I think you can get the same production from a guy who makes less money. There's a budget, and I want that money going to guys like Darrelle Revis and Devin McCourty."
Listen below for Zolak & Bertrand's full discussion:
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