The New England Patriots' longest-tenured player is running it back for a 16th season.
Special teams ace and team captain Matthew Slater will return to the Patriots for the 2023 season despite contemplating NFL retirement, he and the Patriots announced Friday.
"It is a great honor and blessing to return to the Patriots for my 16th season," Slater said in a statement. "I thank God for His continued grace and provision over my career. I look forward to continuing to play under the leadership of Coach (Bill) Belichick. Thank you to the Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization for allowing me to continue to pursue my childhood dream. See you in the fall. God Bless."
Retirement seemed very much on the table for Slater after New England's 2022 season finale, as the 37-year-old got emotional discussing his future in his postgame press conference. Slater said earlier this month he was still undecided about his future, calling it "one of the most difficult decisions of my life."
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Slater has decided to return for Year 16, however, and that's great news for a Patriots team that will greatly benefit from his continued leadership.
"Matt's incredible career is a testament to his preparation and will to succeed," Belichick said in a statement. "We are thrilled he will be playing this season."
Veteran safety Devin McCourty is also mulling retirement and has yet to decide if he'll play in 2023, but Slater's return is a significant morale boost for the Patriots with free agency one month away.