Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater Wants To Finish Career With Patriots

The Patriots picked up Matthew Slater‘s option back in March, assuring that their special teams ace would be back in New England next season. However, if the 33-year-old has his way, he’ll be sticking with the Patriots for the rest of his career. Slater told ESPN’s Mike Reiss that he doesn’t want to play anywhere else, a fact that will be especially relevant when he hits free agency next offseason.

“I was really excited to hear from Bill [Belichick] that they wanted me part of the team moving forward,” Slater said. “I’m so thankful that the Patriots saw fit to continue to make an investment in me as a player and as a leader for our team. I’m so glad I’ve been able to be here the entirety of my career; it really means a lot to me that I’ve been able to be in one place and be a part of such a great organization.”

As Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk.com points out, Slater’s desire to play his entire career with the Patriots could have a deeper meaning. After all, the veteran’s father, Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, played his entire 20-year career with the Rams.

Slater still has a ways to go to catch that number. The special teamer has spent 11 years with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls and earning seven Pro Bowl nods. With only a single regular season reception on his resume, Slater has clearly made a name for himself on special teams. He’s compiled 145 tackles throughout his career, and he’s also returned 35 kickoffs (although he only has three returns over the past four seasons).

Considering the fact that Slater primarily contributes on special teams, he understands that a lost step could spell the end of his tenure in New England. On the flip side, it’s that mindset that keeps the veteran motivated.

“I think I’ve always approached my career as every year could be my last year because of the nature of my position and the unique role I have on the team as a core special teams player,” Slater said.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Patriots Pick Up Matthew Slater’s Option

Matthew Slater is entering his age-34 season, but the Patriots are set to bring him back.

New England’s special teams ace will return for the 2019 season, with the Pats picking up Slater’s option, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Slater collected a $400K roster bonus Wednesday. He is set to make $1.6MM this season.

This coming season will be Slater’s 12th with the Patriots. He has enjoyed a unique career as a niche performer, the wide receiver-in-name-only having caught one pass but been an integral part of New England’s specialty units. He made seven straight Pro Bowls from 2008-18.

With Stephen Gostkowski a free agent, Slater is the Patriots’ second-longest-tenured player — behind only Tom Brady.

 

Patriots Notes: Gordon, Gronk, Slater, Jones

The Patriots will end up getting a 2019 seventh-round pick out of the Josh Gordon trade, per Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. It was initially reported that New England sent a fifth-round pick to Cleveland in exchange for Gordon, and that a seventh-rounder would be coming back to the Pats if Gordon was unable to play 10 games with the club in 2018. Although Gordon ended up playing 11 games for New England before being suspended again, Reiss says the 10-game condition was lifted and that the Patriots will get the 29th pick in the seventh round.

Now for more news and notes from the Super Bowl champs:

  • Tight end Rob Gronkowski has been at Gillette Stadium multiple times over the last couple of weeks, and while he may only be there to continue treatment on his thigh, Reiss believes Gronk’s presence is reflective of the good relationship between him and the team at the moment and of Gronkowski’s overall positive feelings towards the Patriots. Although he may still retire, his current state of mind is good news for Pats fans who would like to see him back in 2019.
  • Matthew Slater is due a $400K roster bonus on March 13, and assuming he is still on the roster at that point, the team’s 2019 option — which calls for a $1.6MM base salary — will be automatically exercised. Reiss believes that is a reasonable price for a special teams ace like Slater, and that the 33-year-old will be back in Foxborough next season.
  • Reiss also believes tight end Dwayne Allen could be back, as the team admires his professionalism and work ethic, but he will obviously need to accept a pay cut; he is due a $6.4MM base salary in 2019.
  • Cornerback Jonathan Jones proved his value to the Patriots in this year’s playoffs, and he is eligible for restricted free agency in March. As Reiss observes, the Patriots could tender him at the second-round level, which would entitle him to a salary of $3.1MM, or at the low level, which calls for a $2MM salary. But if they go with the latter option, they risk losing Jones without getting any draft compensation in return, so Reiss suggests that the two sides could explore a long-term deal before free agency opens.
  • Zack Cox of NESN.com believes LT Trent Brown will get a contract on the free agent market that the Patriots cannot compete with, and that the team will need to turn to 2018 first-rounder Isaiah Wynn to replace him. Wynn, of course, missed his entire rookie campaign due to a torn Achilles he suffered last preseason.
  • Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels received only tepid interest on the head coaching market this year, but Ben Volin of the Boston Globe says McDaniels’ excellent work in engineering the Patriots’ Super Bowl run will put him firmly back on the HC radar in 2020.
  • The Patriots have once again surfaced as a potential home for Colin Kaepernick.

Contract Details: Burnett, Bodine, Williams

Let’s take a look at the most recent new contracts around the NFL:

AFC

NFC

Patriots Re-Sign Matt Slater

The Patriots have re-signed special teams ace Matthew Slater, according to Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald (on Twitter). It’s a two-year deal for the former All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler. 

Last week, Slater met with the Steelers, but it was widely expected that he would return to New England. Slater, 33 in September, has played his entire 10-year career with the Pats.

Last year, the gunner re-signed with Bill Belichick & Co. on a one-year, $1.8MM deal. The new pact should keep him in place through the 2019 season.

He’ll return to the Patriots along with Nate Ebner, another special teams specialist who re-upped with New England earlier this month.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Matthew Slater To Visit Steelers

Having made seven straight Pro Bowls and appearing on the 2016 All-Pro team, Matthew Slater has been one of the most decorated pure special-teamers in NFL history. He could be changing teams.

At least, he’s considering it. The longtime Patriots specialist is visiting the Steelers on Saturday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Slater has played his entire 10-year career in New England.

The 32-year-old gunner agreed to stay with the Patriots last year on a one-year, $1.8MM deal but is now a free agent. Pittsburgh, which is limited in cap space, will not have to spend much to acquire Slater. But the Patriots, who re-signed another ST-only player earlier this week in Nate Ebner, have long valued special teams. So it would be interesting if they deemed a core member of those units expendable.

Notable 2018 Pro Bowl Incentives/Escalators

The NFL announced the 2018 Pro Bowl rosters earlier tonight, and aside from determining which players will spend a week in Orlando early next year, the rosters also dictate several important bonuses and/or contract escalators for individual players. Former NFL agent and current CBSSports.com contributor Joel Corry has rounded up the notable incentives earned tonight, and we’ll pass those along below. As Corry notes (Twitter link), only first ballot Pro Bowlers who actually participate in the game (unless injured or playing in the Super Bowl) are in bonuses, which are typically paid out by the end of March.

Here are the notable Pro Bowl bonuses and escalators that were preliminarily netted this evening (all links to Corry’s Twitter):

Bonuses

  • Ravens S Eric Weddle, $1MM; requires Baltimore in playoffs (link): Still playing like one of the league’s best coverage safeties at the age of 32, Weddle needs the Ravens to land one of the AFC Wild Card slots in order to earn his incentive. Baltimore appears to on course to do just that, as FiveThirtyEight gives the club an 87% of earning a postseason berth. That playoff appearance will be largely due to the Ravens’ defense, which ranks second only to Jacksonville in DVOA.
  • Bills S Micah Hyde, $400K (link): Sean McDermott can coach defensive backs. After spending years finding gems at safety for the Eagles and Panthers, the Bills head coach has helped Hyde transform into a top-notch DB. Hyde, who inked a five-year, $30.5MM contract with Buffalo in the spring, ranked a respectable 53rd in Pro Football Focus‘ safety grades a year ago. This season? He’s ninth.
  • Raiders G Kelechi Osemele, $300K (link): Under general manager Reggie McKenzie, the Raiders have employed what is often referred to as an “all cash” salary cap management system, wherein prorated signing bonuses are rarely used while base salary guarantees, roster bonuses, and — as evidenced by the number of Oakland players on this list — incentive clauses are heavily employed. Osemele, the league’s highest-paid interior offensive lineman, is signed through 2020 with cap charges north of $10MM in each season.
  • Rams K Greg Zuerlein, $250K (link): While the Los Angeles offense garners the most headlines, the club’s special teams unit has maintained its dominance under coordinator John Fassel, who briefly took over as the Rams’ interim head coach in 2016. Fassel, Zuerlein, & Co. have managed a No. 2 ranking in special teams DVOA, while Zuerlein himself has been worth 15.1 points of field position (second in the NFL).
  • Raiders T Donald Penn, $200K (link): Penn’s summer holdout lead to extra guarantees in the future, but didn’t end with a change to his 2017 salary, meaning this bonus part of his original deal. The 34-year-old Penn is currently on injured reserve, and will miss his first game since 2007 on Sunday. Still, his renegotiated contract now contains a $3MM guarantee for 2018, meaning he’s likely part of the Raiders’ plans.
  • Patriots ST Matthew Slater, $150K (link): Slater has now earned a Pro Bowl berth in every season since 2011. At some point, it’s fair to wonder if Slater is skating by on reputation, as he played only a quarter of the Patriots’ special teams snaps this year. Slater missed more special teams tackles than he made prior to his 2016 berth, tweets Mike Renner of Pro Football Focus.
  • Raiders C Rodney Hudson, $100K (link): For all of Oakland’s problems this season, the Raiders have continued to boast some of the NFL’s best pass-blocking offensive lineman. Hudson is the best pass-blocking center in the league by a wide margin, meaning he’s eminently affordable at $8.9MM annually.

Escalators

  • Lions CB Darius Slay, $550K base salary increase in 2018 (link): As Corry reports, Slay had three ways to earn this heft escalator — post five or more interceptions (he sits at seven), play on 80% or more of Detroit’s defensive snaps (he’s at 97.6%), or earn a Pro Bowl berth. Slay managed all three in what has become the best season of an increasingly impressive five-year career.
  • Eagles T Lane Johnson, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-21 (link): Depending on Jason Peters‘ health and the Eagles’ plans, Johnson could very well be playing left tackle as soon as 2018. Even with his base salary set to increase, Johnson won’t have a cap charge north of $13.5MM over the life of his contract.
  • Eagles G Brandon Brooks, $250K base salary increase each season from 2018-20 (link): General manager Howie Roseman zeroed in on Brooks at the outset of the 2016 free agent period, and the 28-year-old has quickly proved to be one of the best free agent signings in recent memory. Brooks will earn an $8.5MM base salary — the largest during his five-year deal — in 2018.
  • Eagles TE Zach Ertz, $250K base salary increase from 2019-21 (link): Per Corry, Ertz also picked up a $100K bonus for 2017. Ertz has already set a career-high in touchdowns (eight) and has a shot to set new marks in receptions and yards even though he missed two games with injury. A former second-round pick, Ertz ranks among the top-five tight ends in catches, yards, and scores.

Extra Points: Texans, RG3, Chiefs, Patriots

The Texans haven’t tried to hit a home run after losing quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season, as they’ve re-inserted Tom Savage as the starter while signing T.J. Yates, Josh Johnson, and Matt McGloin (since released). While Colin Kaepernick stands out as one signal-caller who could potentially aid Houston, there’s another free agent quarterback who could also make sense for the Texans: former Redskins/Browns passer Robert Griffin III.

“Deshaun’s an incredible player with a really bright future,” Griffin told John McClain of the Houston Chronicle. “I feel like I could help him after my experiences with Washington and Cleveland. I feel like I could help the team. I know a lot of their guys. I think I can do a lot of things they’ve been doing offensively. Texas is home, and I’ve always got a soft spot in my heart for Texas.”

Kaepernick, who notably starred collegiately in Texas at Baylor University, has been linked to a number of clubs this offseason — including the Seahawks, Chargers, and Ravens — but has yet to land a contract. While he’s certainly struggled in recent campaigns, he could theoretically offer upside that Savage, Yates, and Johnson do not. However, the Texans haven’t shown any indication that they plan to move away from Savage in the near future.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy is considered a “hot name” in NFL circles and could be a head coaching candidate in 2018, according to Michael Lombardi of the Ringer (Twitter link). Nagy doesn’t call plays in Kansas City (head coach Andy Reid handles that duty), but the 39-year-old has helped orchestrate an exotic offense that’s featured career-best performance from quarterback Alex Smith and excellent contributions from young players such as Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill. At present, the Chiefs ranks third in offensive DVOA, fifth in yards, and fifth in scoring.
  • Special-teamer Matthew Slater suffered a “serious” hamstring injury in the Patriots‘ Week 10 victory over the Broncos and could now be sidelined for multiple games, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. A wide receiver in name only, Slater also missed the first four games of the season with a hamstring issue. He’s played only eight offensive snaps this year, but has seen time on a quarter of New England’s special teams plays. The Patriots are a top-five special teams unit in DVOA, as they have been in six of the past seven seasons.
  • Linebacker Dadi Nicolas (Chiefs) and cornerback Demetri Goodson (Packers) have both begun practicing and now have a 21-day window during which they can be activated from the physically unable to perform list, according to veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer (Twitter links). As Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star writes, the Chiefs are dealing with a number of injuries at linebacker, meaning Nicolas — who appeared in 11 games a season ago — could provide depth. Goodson made three starts for Green Bay in 2016 before going down with a torn ACL.
  • The Packers worked out running back Dare Ogunbowale on Wednesday while the Giants took a look at kicker Marshall Koehn, tweets Balzer. Green Bay is dealing with injuries to both Aaron Jones and Ty Montgomery, so the club is looking for backfield options. New York, meanwhile, has now auditioned kickers in two consecutive days, a sign the team could be frustrated with incumbent Aldrick Rosas‘ 66.7% field goal conversion rate.

Patriots, Matthew Slater Agree To Extension

The Patriots and Matt Slater have agreed to an extension, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a It’s a one-year, $1.8MM deal that will take the wide receiver/special teams specialist through 2017. New England Patriots general helmet (Featured)

[RELATED: Patriots Shopping WR Aaron Dobson]

The five-time Pro Bowler was originally slated to hit the open market following the 2016 season. Slater, who turns 31 in September, has just one reception and seven targets his credit in eight years with the Patriots. Still, he is an important cog in the third facet of the Pats’ game and they wanted to ensure that he would remain in New England beyond this season.

In other Patriots news, one-time Pats hopeful Tim Tebow auditioned for MLB teams on Tuesday afternoon. The Patriots also placed Sebastian Vollmer and Dion Lewis on the PUP list, as expected. Both players will be sidelined for at least six weeks of the NFL season.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

East Notes: Jets, Patriots, Bills, Cowboys

As the Jets’ defeat of the Patriots shakes up the AFC playoff picture, let’s look at some of the news coming out of the Eastern divisions as Week 16 shifts to its night games.

  • Jets players were stunned the Patriots opted to kick to start overtime, Ryan Hannable of WEEI.com reports. “My face lit up, like ‘You really want to kick the ball?’ I don’t know, but I am glad they did choose to kick,” Calvin Pryor told media, including Hannable. Bill Belichick made the same decision two years ago against the Broncos, a game that featured several overtime punts before a Patriots victory. However, receiving teams don’t have an overwhelming percentage edge since the new OT rules were implemented for the regular season. Just 50.7% of receiving teams have won in extra periods since 2012.
  • The player who verbalized New England’s decision to kick, Matt Slater, could not retract his call regarding which direction the Patriots wanted to defend, per the NFL rulebook. But a post-regulation conversation between Belichick and referee Clete Blakeman may have set this mistake in motion, Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com writes. Belichick told Blakeman before the coin toss he intended to have his team kick, and Blakeman worded that into his question to Slater, asking “You want to kick?” Once Slater responded, “We want to kick, that way,” Blakeman could only, by rule, follow his first command as teams that win the toss are not permitted to choose both the action that starts overtime or a half and the direction.
  • Bill Polian‘s recent critique of the current offensive front’s status was a point of contention among the Bills‘ line, Tyler Dunne of the Buffalo News reports. The Hall of Fame ex-Bills GM referred to the Bills’ line as “aging and unathletic,” and the line mates, most notably 29-year-old Eric Wood and 32-year-old Richie Incognito, made it known that upset them. “We were chirping about it a little bit,” Incognito told media, including Dunne. “A lot of text messages back and forth. You know, we noticed it. We’re professionals. And for a guy like Bill Polian — who’s had a lot of success in Buffalo and is a Hall of Fame (executive) — to talk bad about our group like that, it puts a little (expletive) in our grit.” Despite not having LeSean McCoy‘s services, the Bills rushed for 236 yards on 40 carries in their defeat of the Cowboys.
  • Should Jerry Jones decide to fire Jason Garrett after this disastrous season, he’d have to pay up to do so, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. The Cowboys‘ coach is finishing out the first season of a five-year, $30MM contract he signed. An about-face on Garrett’s future in Dallas would cost the Cowboys up to $24MM. Garrett’s passive style in terms of deferring credit works well with the attention-hungry Jones, Florio offers.
  • Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis demurred when asked about his job security, responding, “That’s for other men to decide,” according to Paul Domowitch of Philly.com. Davis’ unit has ceded 216 points the past six games. Domowitch notes Chip Kelly’s vote of confidence about Davis’ future doesn’t mean too much considering Andy Reid gave Sean McDermott the same sentiment before firing him five seasons ago. The Philadelphia writer adds Davis is the likely scapegoat for Kelly’s first-year struggles assembling a quality roster.