New England Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater has always been one of the best in the business, and it takes a unique skill-set to consistently dominate on special teams. Slater has plenty of speed, but it’s his awareness that really sets him apart in punt and kick coverage, as he plays the difficult “gunner” role on punts to perfection. While Slater wasn’t actually the best special teams player last year, he was still terrific, and he’ll probably be a Pro Bowler on special teams every year until he retires.
According to ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, Slater is a “candidate for an extension”, because he is heading into the final year of his deal in 2014. I wonder if the Patriots will be able to get an extension done with their special teams captain before the start of training camp, because I don’t see them negotiating during the regular season. Slater will make a nice $1.2 million next season for his efforts, and I’m sure he’ll be making the same kind of money on a new deal.
At 28, the UCLA product is in the prime of his career, so this would be his last long-term contract. It makes perfect sense for the Patriots to lock him up before training camp opens, because he’s an invaluable piece to a unit they hold important (field position means plenty, and the Pats have always been great at special teams), a big-time locker room leader, and a favorite of Bill Belichick and the rest of the organization.