Report: Patriots bracing to lose OT Nate Solder in free agency

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Nate Solder is in a unique situation heading into free agency later this month. The upcoming NFL draft is short on elite talent at offensive tackle, and Solder is undeniably the top free agent left tackle on the market.

The New England Patriots cannot use the franchise tag to secure him, and according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald, they are preparing for Solder to possibly leave. The reason for this is that there’s a belief that he’ll get north of $12 million per season on the open market.

“Based on early projections, it certainly wouldn’t be a shock if Solder landed a four-year, $52 million offer, or even a two-year, $28 million proposal. And if that happens, the Patriots can’t lowball Solder and expect to keep him. This will likely be Solder’s best chance to earn the most lucrative contract of his career, and he wants to take advantage of the opportunity.”

Howe writes that Solder would love to remain in New England but would absolutely not take a hometown discount to make it happen. He reports the Patriots have not begun contract negotiations with the left tackle at this point and would need to make an aggressive offer to keep him from hitting free agency.

We recently projected that New England wouldn’t be able to afford keeping Solder and predicted he’ll sign with the cap-rich Indianapolis Colts.

He’ll have no shortage of suitors if the Patriots don’t make a bold move to secure him for the long term. This is great news for those teams in need of help but not so great for New England, which could have its work cut out to protect Tom Brady in 2018.