The New England Patriots appear to be welcoming back the heart and soul of their special teams.
On Tuesday, the team reportedly agreed to a two-year contract with wide receiver, and special teams captain Matthew Slater. The news was first reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss and then confirmed by NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, via a source informed of the situation.
The son of Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater, Matthew has earned Pro Bowl recognition for his special teams’ prowess in each of the past seven seasons. The 10-year veteran is also a Bill Belichick favorite and a highly respected team leader.
Special Teams, Indeed
Slater, 32, had paid a free agent visit to the Pittsburgh Steelers over the weekend. Meanwhile, back in Foxboro, the Pats had traded for former Raiders kick-return star and coverage specialist Cordarrelle Patterson on Sunday.
With Patterson to go with Slater, Nate Ebner, and Brandon King, the Patriots look poised to boast on the of the most prolific specials teams units in the NFL in 2018.
However, it is worth noting that Slater and Patterson fall under wide receiver on the depth chart. The Patriots are currently overcrowded at the position. Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt and Phillip Dorsett will all be vying for snaps. Therefore, it is a safe assumption to think that some of the aforementioned names might be gone from the Pats roster as the 2018 season begins.
Aside from that fact, Slater’s return is a true positive for the team, as well as its fans. Patriots Nation is certainly glad to have him back for 2018 and beyond.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He overs the New England Patriots and the NFL. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC