3 Patriots who could realistically retire before 2022 season
2. Matthew Slater
To be honest, Matthew Slater, after 14 NFL seasons, might be the most likely to ride off into the sunset. A Patriots draft selection (fifth round) back in 2008, Slater has been the organization’s special teams ace for the last 10 years.
The two-time All-Pro and 10-time Pro Bowler, like Hoyer, is entering his age-37 season with his contract expiring. Though he just earned second-team All-Pro honors and received another Pro Bowl nod, the conclusion of his fairly lucrative two-year, $5.3 million deal got him to nearly $25 million in career earnings. Not bad for a special teamer who has logged just 1.6% of the offensive snaps since 2017.
Slater, after a long wait, also won the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award for the 2021 season, which caps off yet another accomplishment — probably the last possible attainable one for him at this juncture. It was the fourth time he was a finalist for the award.
After the Patriots’ season-ending loss to the Bills, here’s what the veteran had to say about his future in football, via MassLive.com:
"“I don’t want to disrespect the team and what we just went through and talk about my personal situation 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. But tonight I just want to make sure I express gratitude to people that I owe it to and take time to be reflective, not only for the experience this year, but the entirety of my career.”"
Again, totally within reason, given his age, accomplishments, and desire to likely explore a life beyond football.