This strong start to the offseason for New England just keeps getting better. On Friday, the Patriots announced that veteran special teamer Matthew Slater will officially return to the team for his 16th NFL season.
Slate is back. pic.twitter.com/3hTe0jh0p1— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 17, 2023
The announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, honestly. It was widely believed that the 37-year-old Slater would hang up his cleats after last season. The special teams legend apparently was not quite ready to move on.
Slater’s return has gotten a lot of people in New England excited. Most of all are the people within the Patriot organization.
Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick on the return of Matthew Slater. pic.twitter.com/lb9aOpNrkP— New England Patriots (@Patriots) February 17, 2023
Mac Jones reacts to the news of Matthew Slater coming back by posting a video of Slater catching a 46-yard pass from Tom Brady pic.twitter.com/S6hctWy4lq— Mark Daniels (@ByMarkDaniels) February 17, 2023
Slater, who is probably headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame for his outstanding career on special teams, is apparently quite happy to be back.
“It is a great honor and blessing to return to the Patriots for my 16th season… See you in the Fall. God Bless.”Matthew Slater
Everyone of the Foxborough should be thrilled to have the 10x Pro Bowler back in the fold. New England in recent seasons has lost a lot of the consistency that fans had grown accustomed to. This is especially the case for the special teams unit.
New England in 2022 made so many uncharacteristic mistake on special teams. The Patriots usually were the most well organized and most savvy in that aspect of the game. Just look back at the season finale against Buffalo, and you’ll see what I mean.
TD RETURN FOR THE BILLS ON THE OPENING KICKOFF. pic.twitter.com/iwUR53eXgW— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 8, 2023
The last thing the Patriots’ needed was losing their special teams ace. Things were bad before, they weren’t going to get better with the loss of Slater. His return, mixed with some hopeful coaching changes for that unit, should help bring things back to normal in 2023.
Beyond his usefulness on special teams, Slater is a leader in the lockeroom. Not only is he the oldest player on the team at 37, he’s also the longest tenured. Slater has spent his entire 15 year career in Foxborough, dating back to 2008.
Slater has appeared in five Super Bowls with New England, winning three. The 2x First Team All-Pro selection has also been a team captain for the Patriots since 2011. Keeping a player like that in-house holds a lot of value. The kind of value that can’t always be quantified.
With Slater back in the fold, our eyes now move over to the Devin McCourty retirement situation. It’ll be interesting to see if Slater’s return will have any impact on the longtime Patriot’s decision.
Featured Image by Fred Kfoury III/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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