New England Patriots special-teams captain Matthew Slater has reached agreement on a two-year deal to return to the club, according to a league source.
The two-year deal gives Slater, who entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft choice of the Patriots in 2008, a chance to spend his career with just one team. That is something his father, Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, did by playing 20 years with the Rams.
Slater, who in 2017 won the NFL’s Bart Starr Award — given to the player who exemplifies character and leadership — is one of the Patriots’ inspirational and spiritual leaders. He’s also a perennial Pro Bowl player, having been selected to play in the game in each of the past seven seasons. That ties Steve Tasker for the most special teams Pro Bowl nods in NFL history.
The seven-time Pro Bowl special teams ace, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. Slater, one of the veteran leaders in the locker room, signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.
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The departure of Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Dion Lewis and Malcolm Butler leaves the Patriots with significantly fewer playoff-tested veterans heading into 2018. All of them were members of the Patriots during the four season run from 2014-17 that saw them go to three Super Bowls and four AFC Championship Games.
When Slater was on the field, though, he was his usual productive self. Playing more than half of New England’s kicking game snaps during his 12 in-game appearances, the 32-year old was a core member of all four coverage units as either a gunner on defense – often requiring double teams – or a wedge blocker on offense. And despite the hamstring issues that plagued him, he was a key contributor to plays being made.