Patriots captain Matthew Slater is reportedly considering retirement after 15 seasons in New England.
FOXBORO — While most of his teammates have gone their separate ways for the offseason, New England Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater reportedly remains a fixture in Foxboro.
As he continues to ponder a potential return to the gridiron for his 16th NFL season, Slater has been "a regular at Gillette Stadium in recent weeks,” according to a recent ESPN report .
While it should be noted that players often stay close to their playing base for postseason workouts or injury treatments, Slater's presence at 1 Patriot Place is worth noting -- especially since he has yet to reveal a hint at his future intentions .
If the soon-to-be unrestricted free agent is considering playing in 2023, it is nearly impossible to imagine Slater playing football for any franchise but the Patriots.
Having spent his entire 15-year career with New England, Slater has become one of the NFL’s most respected players, both on and off the field. As such, he is considered the standard by which his teammates and coaches hold themselves accountable.
Selected by New England in the fifth-round of the 2008 draft, He has earned two first-team All-Pro selections (2016, 2019), three second team All-Pro (2017, 2020, 2021) and 10 Pro Bowl nods, the most by a special teamer in NFL history.
Though the team uncharacteristically struggled on special teams in 2022, Slater still performed at a high level . The 12-time team captain took 84 percent of their special teams snaps, earning 13 tackles; routinely making plays as the Pats special teams gunner, as well as in punt and kick team coverage.
For all of his on-field success, the argument can be made that Slater is as, or even more, respected off the field. The Pats captain takes great pride in his role as a mentor for many of the Pats younger players — not only leading them on the field, but also offering his wisdom and advice away from it.
During the Pats offseason workout programs, Slater is among the team's most stabilizing veteran presences. He is often seen working with both rookies and veterans alike during OTAs and minicamp; sharing his thoughts on a specific alignment in team drills or lightening the mood by flashing a smile during warmups.
Financially, Slater and the Patriots are unlikely to reach an impasse during contract negotiations. The veteran received $2,470,000 in guaranteed salary in 2022 , while constituting for $1,272,500 against the salary cap -- figures which should be a fairly accurate indicator of any potential deal.
In the final analysis, Slater. himself, seems to be the deciding factor in his status for the upcoming year. He has been understandably quiet on his thought process since the Pats 35-23 season-ending loss to the Buffalo Bills in January. Appearing to fight back tears at times, the 37-year-old embraced several of his teammates while taking a few extra minutes to soak in the atmosphere. Despite the game’s disappointing outcome, Slater headed to the locker room at Highmark Stadium, apparently at peace with what some consider a Pro Hall of Fame-worthy career.
As such, it is reasonable to deduce that the proverbial sun may be setting on Slater’s career. Still, the 12-time team captain remained reticent to address what lies ahead for him, while refusing to accept the spotlight at the expense of his teammates on that fateful Sunday in Orchard Park.
“I’m not sure, and I don’t think it’s fair to the guys in that locker room to just talk about my personal situation,” Slater said.
Whether his proximity to the Patriots home stadium is a sign of his impending decision will come to light in the not-so-distant future.
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