Matthew Slater

AFC East Notes: Gase, Patriots, Moss, Bills, Slater, Jets, Darnold

Adam Gase became a polarizing figure during his stint as the Jets’ head coach, to put it kindly. His tenure was nothing short of a disaster as New York finished 2-14 this year, and media and fans alike are united in their dislike of him. That being said that might not be enough to damage Gase’s rep in league circles, and it sounds like he could have some opportunities in front of him. Even before Bill Belichick recently sung his praises ahead of Week 17, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe writes that he had already heard Gase’s name connected with the Patriots.

Volin thinks Gase would make sense as the Patriots’ new quarterbacks coach with Jedd Fisch taking the head coaching job at Arizona, or potentially the new OC if Josh McDaniels left. As he points out, there are legit ties here. Both Gase and McDaniels got their first coaching jobs as student assistants on Nick Saban’s staff at Michigan State in 1999. Then Gase was McDaniels’ receivers coach when McDaniels became head coach of the Broncos. With Gase being the Dolphins’ coach before landing the Jets job, he’s spent the past handful of years going up against Belichick twice a year in the AFC East. This hire would certainly raise a lot of eyebrows if it happens.

Here’s more from around the division:

  • The Bills escaped a tough test from the Colts on Saturday, but it looks like they’ll be without a key piece moving forward. Running back Zack Moss will miss time with an ankle injury, and the fear is his postseason may be done, Mike Garafolo tweets. Moss had to be carted off the field, so the fact he’s not 100 percent done for the playoffs could actually be a positive. The third-round rookie from Utah split time in the backfield with Devin Singletary all season, and had seven carries and four catches agains Indy before going down. Singletary will now be the featured back moving forward. Moss finished his rookie season with 112 carries for 481 yards and four touchdowns in 13 games. It’s certainly not ideal, but Buffalo’s Super Bowl chances will still hinge on Josh Allen‘s arm and not the ground game.
  • Special teams ace Matthew Slater has had a storied career with the Patriots, but it could be coming to an end. Slater is uncertain about playing in 2021 and will take some time before deciding about retirement, per Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com. “I’m at a point in my career now where I don’t know how much football I have left and I think as a young guy I was always thinking about the next season, the career you hope to have,” Slater said. “Now, obviously, I’m on the back nine.” If this is it, he’ll hang up his cleats after an extremely decorated career. Slater has won three Super Bowls with New England, made nine Pro Bowls, and seven All-Pro teams. It would also represent the end of an era, as the team captain is one of the few guys left other than Belichick from the old-guard Patriots.
  • As for the Jets, they’ll have the most pivotal offseason of any team in the division. First order of business is deciding what to do with Sam Darnold, and in turn the second overall pick, as we’ve already heard they’ll be trading one of them. There will surely be a lot of speculation leading up to the draft, and ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay is saying he thinks New York will pass on taking a new quarterback, via Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. “I know [Jets GM] Joe Douglas. I obviously played with him in college. We have a good relationship,” McShay said. “I know he grew up in the Ozzie Newsome organization with the Ravens. If it’s not going to be Trevor Lawrence, it’s going to be move down, if possible. If not, let’s protect [Darnold] and get guys around the player we think can be our franchise.” As for Douglas, he was complimentary of Darnold at his end of year press conference, but wouldn’t commit to him long-term. This is just one of what will be many datapoints, but right now it seems like Darnold has a good shot to be under center in 2021.

AFC East Notes: Edelman, Jets, Dolphins

Matthew Slater is in the midst of his 13th NFL season. With the Patriots currently spending a week on the West Coast, the California (and UCLA) product is appreciating what could be the final homecoming of his career.

“I don’t know how many more chances I’m going to have to play football in California, where my dreams started as a kid. It certainly means a lot,” Slater told ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “For our team, it’s another game, and they’ll be the two biggest games of the season. It certainly carries a little extra significance for me, especially the second one, needless to say.”

Yesterday’s game against the Chargers marked Slater’s first game in Los Angeles since his final season at UCLA in 2007. As Reiss notes, Slater’s father, Jackie, spent 19 of his 20 NFL seasons playing in Los Angeles for the Rams.

The 35-year-old special teams ace has spent his entire career on the opposite coast in New England. Slater has earned three Super Bowl rings, eight Pro Bowl appearances, and five first-team All-Pro nods. He also earned a spot on New England’s 2010s All-Decade Team.

Some more notes out of the AFC East…

  • One of Slater’s teammates won’t be returning to the field very soon. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that wideout Julian Edelman is “still a couple of weeks” away from rejoining the Patriots. The 34-year-old landed on IR back in October after undergoing knee surgery, and he was recently placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Edelman, who has 21 receptions for 315 yards this season, is still planning to play again in 2020, according to Schefter.
  • A surprising name has popped up as a potential suitor for the inevitable head coaching vacancy with the Jets. WFAN radio host Boomer Esiason suggested that former Steelers head coach Bill Cowher could be an option for New York. “He was saying to me yesterday, he’s the one that told me the Jets job is going to be really attractive, and they could hire whomever they want, and he told me he loves [G.M.] Joe Douglas,” Esiason said (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). Cowher hasn’t coached since the 2006 season. He currently holds a 149-90 record, and he won a Super Bowl championship with Pittsburgh in 2005.
  • The Dolphins auditioned running back Elijah McGuire recently, according to Schefter (on Twitter). The former Jets sixth-round pick has bounced around the NFL a bit, including a stint on the Cowboys practice squad that ended back in October. The 26-year-old has appeared in 24 career games (five starts), rushing for 591 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also added 36 receptions for 370 yards and two scores.

Contract Details: Trevathan, Slater, Smith

A bunch of teams have been locking up their own impending free agents with contract extensions before the new league year opens, and now we have the financial details we were missing on some of those deals. Linebacker Danny Trevathan signed a new three-year contract with the Bears, and he got a nice payday. The pact has a base value of $21.75MM that can grow to $24MM if he hits some incentives, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network (Twitter video link).

He’s getting $14MM in guaranteed money, essentially meaning the first two years of the deal are mostly guaranteed. Rapoport also reports that the extension was a “priority” for them, and confirms this likely means the Bears will be letting fellow linebacker Nick Kwiatkoski walk in free agency, something we heard earlier this weekend. Trevathan is a full-time starter when healthy, but he has missed 18 games across his four years with Chicago.

Here’s the latest on the new salaries:

  • Special teams ace and locker room leader Matthew Slater signed a new two-year deal with the Patriots on Friday, and now we have his terms. He’s getting $5.3MM over the two years, Albert Breer of SI.com tweets. He’ll have base salaries of $1.6MM in 2020 and $1.75MM in 2021, with the rest coming in the form of roster and per-game bonuses. That’s a pretty impressive figure for a player who only contributes on special teams these days. Of course, Slater’s importance to the team goes well beyond his on-field contributions, as he is a team captain and staple of Bill Belichick’s program. He’s also made the Pro Bowl eight times.
  • Speaking of guys playing unheralded positions getting paid, Falcons fullback Keith Smith also signed an extension yesterday. His new three-year contract will pay him a solid $4.3MM, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The San Jose State product, who was in his first year with Atlanta in 2019, will get $1.95MM in guaranteed money. Smith played about 17 percent of the offensive snaps last year as a lead-blocker, while also contributing heavily on special teams.

Patriots Sign Matthew Slater To Two-Year Extension

The extensions keep coming as the start of free agency gets closer. This time it’s the Patriots locking up one of their own as New England has signed special teams ace Matthew Slater to a two-year extension, sources told Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

Slater is technically a receiver, but he plays almost exclusively on special teams. This past year he played only 21 total offensive snaps while playing 73 percent of the special teams snaps across multiple units. Yates doesn’t have the exact terms of the new deal, but he writes that it is “similar to his last,” which averaged $2.6MM annually. Slater had been set to become an unrestricted free agent next week.

He’s always been the epitome of a team player, doing whatever is asked of him. He has even occasionally contributed on defense over the years, starting three games at safety in 2011. Slater has become prominent for being a leader in the locker room, and is a team captain.

A favorite of Bill Belichick, Slater has made the Pro Bowl eight times as a special teamer. He’s won three Super Bowls since joining the Patriots as a fifth-round pick out of UCLA back in 2008. The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater, he has often said he doesn’t see himself playing anywhere besides New England. He turned 34 in September.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Extra Points: Slater, AB, Suggs

We’ve seemingly heard the same sentiment for several years now, but it’s worth passing along once again: Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater has no intention of retiring and hopes to stick with New England.

“I definitely feel like my family and I thought about it a lot,” Slater said The Athletic’s Jeff Howe. “I still love to play and want to continue to play. I guess as of now, I want to keep playing. We just have to see how things go from here. There are a lot of things up in the air that I don’t know, but I’m going to approach it as though I’m preparing to play next year. We’ll kind of go from there. That’s where we’re at.”

The 2008 fifth-rounder has spent his entire career with the Patriots, earning three Super Bowl rings. The 34-year-old earned his eighth-career Pro Bowl nod this season.

Let’s check out some more notes from around the league…

  • An arrest warrant was issued for Antonio Brown following an altercation with a truck driver, and TMZ has passed along some soundbites from the 911 call (via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com). “The guy is high, he smoked, he threatened me,” the driver said. “He’s trying to fight, he throws stones at my truck.” Brown’s trainer, Glen Holt, was arrested following the incident.
  • After getting waived by the Cardinals, veteran Terrell Suggs was hoping he’d land back in Baltimore. Instead, he was claimed by the Chiefs, and it didn’t take long for the veteran to buy into his new team. “It didn’t take much convincing,” Suggs told Dave Skretta of the Associated Press. “This team is pretty vet-savvy. Having been in this position a few times, you learn more from failure than you ever would from success. I think that the things that have happened in years past kind of prepared this team for the task that it took. It also doesn’t hurt to have the reigning MVP, and definitely the best tight end in the game, on your team. Once they got rolling and clicking on all cylinders, we got to have fun out there.”
  • Remember when we heard that former star receiver Chad Johnson was going to audition for the XFL as a kicker. Well, ESPN’s Kevin Seifert writes that the 42-year-old didn’t participate in his scheduled audition on Monday. Meanwhile, league commish Oliver Luck told Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle that Johnson was a “no-show” (Twitter link). As Seifert notes, one former kicker did land a XFL gig, as former Saints special teamer Garrett Hartley earned a job following the Monday tryout.

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.