When the Giants used the ninth overall pick of the draft on Ereck Flowers three years ago, they hoped he'd be a fixture at left tackle for them for a decade.
That experiment is now apparently over.
The Giants are expected to replace him on Wednesday afternoon by signing former Patriots left tackle Nate Solder shortly after the free-agent market opens at 4 p.m., according to an NFL source. He will be getting a monster, four-year deal worth $62 million and $35 million guaranteed, the source said. The $15.5 million per year average makes him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the league.
The Giants' strong pursuit of Solder, who'll be 30 next month, was a bit of a surprise because heading into free agency, a team source told SNY they felt the tackle market would be overpriced, and they preferred to concentrate on guards. But they missed out on their top target, guard Andrew Norwell, who agreed to a five-year, $66.5 million contract with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Tuesday.
With the guard market somewhat thin after that, they turned their attention to the top tackle instead.
And the 6-foot-8, 325-pound Solder is a good one who has been a fixture in the Patriots' starting lineup since they took him out of Colorado with the 17th overall pick in the 2011 draft. The Giants were actually very interested in taking Solder in that draft too, according to team sources. But they drafted 19th, and when the Patriots took Solder, the Giants selected cornerback Prince Amukamara instead.
Giants GM Dave Gettleman was the team's pro personnel director back then, so he surely remembers the Giants' interest in Solder. Regardless, he went into free agency determined to "fix" the offensive line, and with Norwell off the board, left tackle was the perfect place to start.
The question now, though, is: What do the Giants do with Flowers? He has unquestionably been a bust as a player at left tackle, even though former GM Jerry Reese stubbornly stood by him, and the team kept him in the starting lineup for almost every game of his three NFL seasons - even passing up obvious free-agent help like veteran Andrew Whitworth, who signed with the Rams last season. Flowers also was an attitude problem, once shoving a reporter in the locker room after a game, rarely speaking to the media, and alienating some of his teammates.
He also made it clear to the Giants that he did not want to play in the season finale last season due to some nagging injuries, according to a team source. As a result, he was benched and deactivated for the game. And he was the lucky one, because for the same reasons his good friend, former Giants right tackle Bobby Hart, was cut.
But, as Reese often pointed out, the 6-foot-6, 325-pound Flowers is still young. He's only 23 years old, and signed through the end of this season at a salary of $2.4 million. The Giants surely won't pick up his option for 2019. But will they keep him around for this season as a backup? Will they move him to right tackle?
Or could they pick up a low-round draft choice or something by dealing him in a Draft Day trade?
All options for Flowers are likely on the table except for one: He won't be the Giants' left tackle anymore.