Matthew Slater isn’t returning for a 16th season just to play football

New England Patriots special teams legend Matthew Slater isn’t returning for a 16th season just for his love of playing football. In a new interview with writer Paul Perillo, Slater admitted his intentions go much deeper than that.

“I do believe that my role at this point is not just about covering kicks, blocking for returners,” said Slater. “I think it’s about fostering culture, building relationships and pouring into young men. You can do that in other capacities but the way you do that as a player is very different. The way you’re able to connect with guys is very different.”

Slater and the Patriots agreed to a one-year deal worth upwards of $2,667,500 in total.

Coach Bill Belichick was likely interested in the football side of things, as Slater still proved to be a solid special-teamer, even when the unit struggled throughout the 2022 season. But there’s also the leadership aspect as well, and that isn’t just limited to special teams.

The Patriots could use Slater at a time that truly feels like a changing of the guard for the team. It’s a time when guys like Slater and Devin McCourty are on their way out, and the next generation of players are finding themselves in a position to step up and lead.

In many ways, Slater is a good player, coach and mentor combined all into one person. So the thought of bringing him back was a no-brainer decision for the Patriots.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire