New England Patriots

Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots celebrates a touchdown after a blocked punt during the first half against the Buffalo Bills at New Era Field on September 29, 2019 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images)

By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

As reported by ESPN’s Field Yates on Friday, the Patriots and longtime special teams ace Matthew Slater have agreed to a two-year extension that will keep him away from unrestricted free agency. The deal also all but ensures that Slater will play his entire career in New England.

Yates reported that the contract is similar to Slater’s previous one with the Patriots, which averaged $2.6 million per year.

Slater had arguably the best season of his career in 2019 at age 34, earning First Team All-Pro honors for the second time and scoring his first career touchdown on a blocked punt against the Buffalo Bills. He also blocked a punt himself in Week 12 against the Dallas Cowboys, which helped set up the Patriots’ only touchdown of the game in a 13-9 win.

The Patriots also highly value Slater’s leadership presence in the locker room. That’s a role he will especially have to fill if other veteran free agents like Tom Brady and Devin McCourty sign elsewhere. Slater is widely respected in Foxborough and throughout the NFL for the professionalism he shows both on and off the field.

FOXBOROUGH, MA - NOVEMBER 24: Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots reacts after a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MA – NOVEMBER 24: Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots reacts after a game against the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium on November 24, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick coached the Patriots’ special teams units to an excellent season in 2019. The combination of Slater at gunner and rookie punter Jake Bailey consistently proved highly effective in the field position game. Keeping Slater around maintains continuity in that phase.

Slater has played all 12 of his seasons in the NFL with the Patriots, playing in five Super Bowls and winning three in that span. He said during last season (via Mike Reiss): “It’s hard for me to visualize myself playing anywhere else. I’ve expressed publicly & privately to remain a Patriot for the entirety of my career.”

That appears to be a certainty at this point.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.