Tagged in: Giants

Giants OT Nate Solder opts out, cites family’s health concerns

New York Giants offensive tackle Nate Solder stated Wednesday he’s opting out of the 2020 NFL season amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Our family has health concerns, most notably our son’s ongoing battle with cancer, as well as my own bout with cancer,” Solder said in a Twitter post. “We also welcomed a new addition to our family this spring, a baby boy. With fear and trembling, we struggle to keep our priorities in order and, for us, our children’s health and the health of our neighbors comes before football.”

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman voiced his support for Solder’s decision. “We have great respect for Nate as a person and player,” he said in a statement on the team’s official site. “When he called today, I told him it is faith, family and football. He is doing what’s best for his family.”

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Solder and his wife, Lexi, welcomed their son Hudson in July 2015.

He was diagnosed with kidney cancer that October, and the disease has persisted over the years.

According to NJ Advance Media’s Matt Lombardo, Solder could qualify as “high risk” in the eyes of the NFL. That would allow him to obtain a $350,000 salary advance instead of $150,000 for a standard voluntary opt-out. Any player who opts out will have his contract toll as well.

Solder’s absence will likely mean 2020 first-round draft pick Andrew Thomas will be the Giants’ starting left tackle. New York selected Thomas fourth overall in April, and he was tentatively slated to start on the right opposite Solder.

Now, the former Georgia star will have to play a crucial role in protecting quarterback Daniel Jones’ blind side, leaving the team in need of a new right tackle. Having signed a one-year contract with the team in March, Cam Fleming would be the logical substitute.

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Giants release Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas

The New York Giants are moving on from former Pro Bowl kicker Aldrick Rosas previous to the start of training camp. Rosas confirmed his release on Instagram — just a day after he was reportedly scheduled to arrive at the team’s practice facility for camp. 

“I wish I could have performed at the level I know I can play at,” Rosas wrote. “I have nothing but love towards the New York Giants. The values of character, love, and family are seen in everyday life at the facility within staff and management. Thank you to all my fans who showed love and support through the years.”

The Giants, who had no kickers on the roster after cutting Rosas, have reportedly already added a substitute. Per Matt Lombardo of NJ.com, the Giants signed former New York Jets kicker Chandler Catanzaro — who had retired from the NFL last August.

In his five-year career, Catanzaro converted 83.8 percent of his field goal attempts with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Arizona Cardinals and New York Jets. He was 10 of 16 (62.5 percent) on kicks over 50 yards. 

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Catanzaro surprisingly retired last August following a forgettable preseason opener in which he missed two extra points in a Jets preseason loss to the Giants.

Catanzaro missed a kick to the right and one to the left on his first two attempts before finally converting one with 14 seconds left in the game. He finished 1 of 3 on extra points and made his only field goal attempt, a 34-yarder, in the second quarter. 

Rosas was already on thin ice with the Giants and it wasn’t all because of his unfortunate 2019 season, when he hit just 12 of 17 field goal attempts (70.6%) and 35 of 39 extra point attempts (89.7%).

Rosas was charged with three misdemeanors stemming from a high-speed hit-and-run in June: Reckless driving on a highway, hit and run and property damage, and driving with a suspended or revoked license due to a previous DUI of alcohol or drugs. Rosas’ first court appearance is arranged for Sept. 4. 

The charges from June likely were the last straw for the Giants, who actually placed a second-round tender on Rosas earlier this offseason. Rosas converted 82.7% of his field goal attempts in his three seasons combined, but was under 71% in two of those three campaigns.

His 2018 Pro Bowl season was the outlier, as Rosas hit 32 of 33 field goal attempts (97.0%) and 31 of 32 extra point attempts (96.9%). Rosas was just 1 of 5 on field goal attempts from over 40 yards last campaign.

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Giants, IF Wilmer Flores agree on multiyear deal

The San Francisco Giants have added infield depth by agreeing with Wilmer Flores on a multiyear contract, according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.

The 28-year-old could compete for the starting second base job or at least play in a utility role around the infield.

Flores has made over 100 starts at all four infield spots during his career, mostly playing second base in his limited action with the Arizona Diamondbacks last campaign.

A foot injury and other ailments limited Flores to just 89 games in 2019, but he excelled when healthy with a .317 batting average and .848 OPS, both of which were career highs. He added 18 doubles and nine home runs in 285 plate appearances.

It came after serving as a reliable hitter for the New York Mets, producing a .262/.303/.424 slash line across six seasons.  Despite his success last season, the Diamondbacks declined his option for 2020, putting him back on the open market for the second consecutive winter.

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Flores will get an opportunity at another fresh start with San Francisco, trying to remain a consistent presence in the offense.

The Giants failed to get regular production at second base last year, eventually parting with Joe Panik midseason. Donovan Solano and Mauricio Dubon both played well when given the opportunity, but neither has much of a track record to trust going into 2020.

These two, along with Kean Wong, should compete with Flores for playing time in the middle infield spot.

Considering Flores has five career pinch-hit home runs and experience at a variety of positions, he should be useful regardless of his role this season.

With Flores in the fold, Kapler can now field an all right-handed hitting infield with Flores at first, Dubón and Solano up the middle and Evan Longoria at third.

If Sánchez or left-handed hitting waiver wire acquisition Kean Wong makes the Opening Day roster, the Giants can also go heavy with lefties in the infield as Brandon Belt can play first, Sánchez or Wong can play second and Crawford can play short.

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