FOXBOROUGH ó For the past three seasons, Nate Solder has been able to turn to his right and see Logan Mankins go to work.
And for the past three seasons, Solder, the Patriots left tackle, has gotten to know Mankins and his family intimately while he has learned the ropes in the NFL. So on Tuesday, when Solder spoke of Mankins and his trade from the Patriots to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he did so in a manner that revealed his feelings about the transaction ó†unlike the countless other team transactions that have occurred in his NFL career ó and how it hit him a little harder than he wanted to let on.
"What an awesome player," said Solder, exhaling deeply. "So honored to play with that guy. So honored to get to know him and his family. I canít say enough good things about him, him and his family. Heís got great morals, great ethics, great work ethic. Tremendous guy. Heís going to be great wherever he goes. So, for the Patriots, we move on. As sad as that is, itís exciting too. We move on to the thrills of the season.
"Itís all coming on pretty quickly," Solder continued. "So, really, I just reflect. Heís an awesome guy, great person, and heís going to continue to be those things. And I surely hope to have a great relationship with him as we go ahead forward in life. But as the Patriots go, heís not here anymore, so we worry about what we can worry about."
Solder was the most expansive and up front about a team transaction that he'd ever been. Usually known for his short takes and responses, this one weighed on him. But he wasn't ready to say that outright. ("I suppose, but I'm not sure.") Instead, for him and his colleagues, there was some recognition of how hard this time of year can be personally.
"I think this is the toughest [time of year]. Guys that have been here for months or guys that have been here for years, itís tough. Iím sure itís tough for the coaches to make those decisions and see these guys leave. But thatís the business and we all understand that."