Special teamers don’t get the same attention as most NFL players, but few are better in those underrated aspects of the game than Matthew Slater. The 34-year old has been a New England Patriot since the team drafted him out of UCLA in 2008.
In that time, he has won three Super Bowls, made eight Pro Bowls (every year from 2011-2019, except for 2018), and was a first team All-Pro five times, including this season. It is as impressive a career as any special teamer has had.
We’re entering an offseason of serious speculation in New England. Most are focused on Tom Brady’s future with the team, but Slater’s has also been a question.
Ahead of this weekend’s Pro Bowl, he says he still loves the game and doesn’t have plans to retire. From ESPN’s Mike Reiss:
“I think the way I look at it right now, I still love playing football and I still appreciate the opportunities I have to forge relationships and be with my teammates and play the game I love. Every aspect of it, I love. As I said after the year, I was going to pray about it with my family. We have. It’s my desire to continue to play… I’m going to prpare and approach it as though I’m going to continue to play and we’ll see how it goes.”
When asked if he would continue to play if it means leaving the Patriots, he didn’t shut down the idea, though he made it clear that he’d rather stay in New England.
“It’s hard for me to visualize myself playing anywhere else. But that’s not always my decision so I think that’s out of my control. I’ve expressed publicly and privately to remain a Patriot for the entirety of my career and certainly I still feel that way, so we’ll see how it goes.”
Matthew Slater made some of the biggest plays of his career this year. In Week 4 against the Buffalo Bills, he returned a blocked punt 11 yards for a score. He blocked a punt of his own in Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys, setting up a touchdown for Brady and the offense.
This year’s eighth Pro Bowl selection gives him the NFL record for a special teams player.