After an embarrassingly lopsided 47-17 loss to the division rival Buffalo Bills on Wild Card weekend, the New England Patriots organization and several players have some decisions to make.
The Patriots will have to decide if they will extend or offer contracts to some players who are at a decision point with their deals. Some of the older players have to decide if they will continue playing for the Patriots or in the NFL at all.
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Patriots legend Matthew Slater is a part of the latter group.
The 36-year-old Patriots specialist just made his 10th Pro Bowl and finished Second-Team All-Pro this season. Slater has won three Super Bowls over the course of his career–all of which has been spent with the Patriots dating back to 2008.
Slater has about as good of a case as any career special-teamer in NFL history for the Hall of Fame, but when will that countdown toward eligibility begin?
Slater on Possible Retirement: ‘I Will Pray About It’
During his postgame presser, Slater took to the podium after rookie quarterback Mac Jones. After talking up the young signal-caller’s future, Slater was asked about his own.
“I certainly don’t want to disrespect the team, and what we just went through, and talk about my personal situation,” Slater responded to reporters on January 15. “Obviously, I’m closer to the end, we all know that. I’ll pray about it and make a final decision and have some conversations.”
Slater could have called it a career before this season and he still would have had a great case for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His personal success in 2021 only adds to his resume. Becoming the first special-teamer to make the Hall of Fame would likely be a great accomplishment for Slater, but it seems he plays the game as much for the camaraderie as he does the individual accolades.
“This team should be proud of the strides that it made, the growth that we showed over the course of the season,” Slater said. “I know, for me, I’m just thankful to have been able to be a part of this group.”
Another Long-Time Patriot With a Decision to Make
The Patriots might also be saying goodbye to free safety Devin McCourty. The 34-year-old is headed for free agency. Like Slater, he’s never played for another organization, and it is unclear if he’d be willing to sign elsewhere.
The Patriots may not be interested in retaining him, and even if they are, they may want him to take a pay cut that is beneath the two-year, $23 million deal that is ending with the team’s loss to the Bills.
It’s very possible New England could be without multiple mainstays next season as the roster turns over in 2022.
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