Matthew Slater looked and sounded like a player eyeing retirement after the Patriots’ season ended in Buffalo.
But his actions in the weeks since might suggest otherwise.
New England’s special teams ace, who’ll turn 38 in September, wouldn’t commit to retirement during his postgame news conference after the Patriots’ Week 18 loss to the Bills. The same goes for star 35-year-old safety Devin McCourty. However, many expect both players to hang up their cleats this offseason.
In his notes column published Sunday morning, ESPN’s Mike Reiss painted a picture of a player who, at the very least, isn’t quite ready to leave Foxboro in the rearview mirror.
“Some players skip town when the season ends, while others stick around,” Reiss wrote. “Count Matthew Slater in the latter category. The venerable special teams captain, who is deliberating playing a 16th NFL season, has been a regular at Gillette Stadium in recent weeks.”
Fans shouldn’t read too much into this report. As a franchise leader, there are myriad reasons that Slater could be hanging around One Patriot Place, especially as New England goes through a major transition with its coaching staff. One purely speculative theory: Perhaps Slater is helping Joe Judge with his possible move back to special teams coordinator.
Slater faced similar retirement questions after last season but didn’t re-sign with the Patriots until mid-March. So, it might be a while before we learn of his intentions for the 2023 campaign.
As for McCourty, his recent comments to Peter King indicate he, too, might take some time before he makes his decision.