When the Patriots announced that special teams captain Matthew Slater will return for his 16th season, coach Bill Belichick said he was thrilled. And that’s all Slater needed.
The 37-year-old Slater told TheAthletic.com that he had a very short conversation with Belichick to confirm that both sides still wanted him to play in New England.
“I bumped into him outside the weight room,” Slater said. “I was going out, he was coming. I told him I felt like I wanted to come back and play. And it was very well received. He was excited that I felt that way.”
Slater said he would have listened if Belichick had told him it was time to retire.
“If Bill had said, ‘OK, it’s time,’ that would have removed all doubt about playing,” Slater said. “But he wanted me back. The conversation was all of two minutes, maybe three minutes.”
Slater’s dad, Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater, played 20 seasons with the Rams, so 16 seasons with one team doesn’t seem like a lot.
“I’m in a very unique position. My dad has more experience doing what I do than I have. The conversation between us was what Year 16 looked like to him, in his career. And how he felt physically,” Slater said.
Whether Slater can play as long as his dad did remains to be seen, but he’s not ready to walk away yet, and Belichick isn’t ready to lose his special teams captain.