Patriots

Belichick's take on where Matthew Slater ranks among NFL special teams greats

Patriots

Matthew Slater's remarkable career should one day be honored in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but in the meantime, he's still playing at an elite level for the New England Patriots.

You won't find a better special teams player in the NFL.

The 35-year-old veteran was selected to the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl on Monday. Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore and punter Jake Bailey also were named to the AFC roster. 

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It was Slater's ninth Pro Bowl selection in 13 seasons. His nine Pro Bowl nods are tied for the second-most in team history with Hall of Fame guard John Hannah, and only Tom Brady has more with 14.

The special teams ace also has five first team All-Pro selections and one second team All-Pro nod. He's played a part in three Super Bowl titles with New England, too.

Slater's résumé speaks for itself, but is he the best special teams player in league history?

"It’s got to be at the top," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said in a media conference call Tuesday. "I can’t think of anybody that’s done more than he has and that’s done it over a very consistent period of time at an extremely high level, in addition to all the other qualities that he brings off the field – leadership, just doing the right thing, just the person and the human being that he is. But, his competitiveness on the field, he’s a great teammate – just outstanding in all areas.

 

"It would be hard for me to imagine anybody going ahead of him. We’ve had some great players here and I’ve had some great players through my career – in Cleveland, going back to the Giants – but, he’s certainly the very best that I’ve ever been around and that we’ve had to play against, as well. His consistency is outstanding, but he factors in on a lot of plays."

The Patriots have had some great special teams players since Belichick took over as head coach in 2000. Slater is the best of the group, and it would be a real shame if he didn't get inducted into the Hall of Fame soon after he becomes eligible.