“As soon as we announced the signing of Nate, [coach] Pat [Shurmur] spoke with Ereck,” general manager Dave Gettleman said in a statement announcing Solder’s deal. “He called him on the phone to talk to him and said, ‘Listen, we're going to move you to right, and at the end of the day, the five best offensive linemen play.’ That's where they left it, and Ereck was fine on the phone.”
Flowers struggled during his three seasons at left tackle. When the Giants signed Solder to a record-setting four-year deal worth $62 million, there was little doubt it meant some kind of change for Flowers. Right tackle, right guard or even being traded -- he’s in the fourth and final year of his rookie contract -- were options.
The Giants elected to keep Flowers in the mix for a starting position. They appear optimistic it might be able to work at right tackle.
“Absolutely,” Gettleman said. “He's a big, strong, powerful kid, and it's just a matter of getting used to playing over there.”
Flowers, who turns 24 next month, has started 46 games in his first three professional seasons. All 46 have been at left tackle. He did play some right tackle at Miami.
He was thrust into the lineup immediately as a rookie after starter Will Beatty tore his pectoral muscle in the spring. It was a responsibility Flowers ultimately proved he wasn’t ready to handle.
The ninth overall pick of the 2015 draft allowed 5 sacks, 17 hits and 47 hurries his rookie season, according to Pro Football Focus. He has never ranked higher than 43rd among all tackles in their grades during any of his three seasons.
Flowers has consistently struggled with his technique and footwork; it was a concern many had with him coming out of college.
He has also had other struggles. Flowers and former right tackle Bobby Hart were outcasts in the Giants' offensive line room the past few seasons. When the group spent time together off the field, Flowers and Hart didn’t attend. They weren’t even part of the line’s annual Secret Santa gift exchange.
Hart and Flowers both told coaches they couldn’t play in the 2017 finale, with the Giants finishing off a horrendous 3-13 campaign. More than a few people in the building thought they had packed their bags early and didn’t want to play.
Hart was waived that week; he ultimately landed with the Cincinnati Bengals. Flowers didn’t dress for the Week 17 victory over the Washington Redskins, in which the Giants ran for a season-high 260 yards. He said after the contest that he was unable to play because of injury.
Flowers is set to make $2.4 million this season; that is guaranteed as part of his rookie deal. The Giants have the option to pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal this offseason. It’s unlikely they will as he competes for a starting spot.