Patriots Hall of Famer Matt Light says Nate Solder can’t be replaced ‘overnight’
The New England Patriots have had relative stability at left tackle for basically this whole millennium. Matt Light was a stalwart at the position for more than a decade, and Nate Solder came right in and took over for him after his retirement.
But the Patriots now face a tough task of replacing Solder after his departure this offseason. It is a process which Light believes could take some time because of how good Solder is.
“As far as fans, and how they view this season with respect to the loss to a guy like Nate, Nate’s not a guy you can just replace. No. 1, because he’s a ridiculously large mammal,” Light said per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. From the first time I met him, I thought, ‘Man, this just shouldn’t be right that big guys like this are designed the way they are.’ … The guy is just unbelievably talented in so many ways, and he’s smart, a cerebral player. You don’t replace a guy like that overnight.”
The Patriots will likely try out some different options to fill that significant void left by Solder. First-round pick Isaiah Wynn will get his shot to make the position his own, as will the likes of Trent Brown and Cameron Fleming.
Wynn is the first offensive tackle the Patriots have taken since Solder, which speaks to how highly they think of him. It remains to be seen if he can continue the Patriots’ impressive succession of finding reliable left tackles.
Light understandably believes it won’t be so easy to find someone as good as Solder that easily. But with the increasing importance to protect Tom Brady given his age, they’ll have to find a way to keep him safe as they try to determine Solder’s long-term successor.