Patriots LT Nate Solder is a valuable asset

In an entertaining piece on Grantland, Bill Barnwell produces the first entry of a multi-part list on the top-50 trade assets in the NFL. Barnwell covers numbers 30-50 in Part I and lays out the ground rules at the start of the piece, pointing out that economics are a big part of the evaluation.

There is a New England Patriots player on the list that might come as a surprise to some: left tackle Nate Solder at No. 41.

"Solder has stepped in for Matt Light after the latter’s retirement and been an above-average left tackle for the past two seasons," Barnwell writes. "Those guys retail at about $8 million per year. Solder will make $2.7 million in the fourth year of his rookie contract, and New England has already exercised the fifth-year option on his deal, which will pay him $7.5 million in 2015. After one year with Bruce Armstrong, Belichick turned the left tackle slot over to Light for the next 11 seasons; it would not be a surprise if Solder were Belichick’s third and final regular at left tackle as Patriots head coach."

Cornerback Darrelle Revis is the other Patriots player on Part I (at No. 35), while we'd expect quarterback Tom Brady to land somewhere in the top 10.

Specific to Solder, he was selected 17th overall in the 2011 draft with the pick the Patriots received from Oakland in a 2009 trade for defensive lineman Richard Seymour. Solder has played in 47 of a possible 48 regular-season games, with 44 starts.

When it came down to it, it's my belief the Patriots were debating between Solder and defensive lineman Cameron Jordan that year with the 17th pick.

Turns out they wouldn't have gone wrong either way.