Matthew Slater

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities', says Matthew Slater

Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham 'has a lot of great qualities', says Matthew Slater

Matthew Slater is the latest New England Patriots player to give a positive review of young quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

The Patriots selected Stidham in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and after not getting many regular season reps as a rookie, he's now the leading candidate to replace Tom Brady after the six-time Super Bowl champion left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency.

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Taking over for the greatest quarterback in NFL history will be an enormous challenge for Stidham (or whoever wins the starting job for Week 1), but Slater is optimistic about the 23-year-old's talent and mental makeup.

"He's a great kid, and I think that’s the thing that is going to matter the most with any player – who is he as a man, who is he as a person, what’s he motivated by? He’s just a great kid to be around," Slater said Monday during a media conference call. "He brings a lot of positive energy, he’s always got a smile on his face, and you can tell he’s very appreciative of the opportunity that he had last year and the opportunity that he’ll have going forward. So, certainly he has a lot of great qualities that can make him a good player at the quarterback position. Coach Belichick and his staff wouldn’t have brought him in here if they didn’t think he had those qualities.

"I think at that position, almost more than any other, it’s going to be the intangibles that get a guy to maybe a successful position. So, I think he’s got some good traits. I think he’s going to be a good player. His attack, his approach is going to have to be one day at a time, just like any of us. I think it’s important, and I’ll certainly encourage him, just to be himself – be himself, continue to be the person that he is, continue to be the teammate that he is, and we’ll just take this thing one day at a time."

Slater isn't the only Patriots player who's given a positive review of Stidham of late. Veteran safety Devin McCourty praised Stidham's poise and maturity (among other qualities) during a recent episode of his "Double Coverage" podcast and on a media conference call last week.

Stidham showed flashes of his exciting potential during last year's training camp and preseason, and now he should get the opportunity to prove he's capable of being a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. Even though this will be a brand new and difficult challenge for him, he does have some good experience to help him. Stidham played against SEC competition for two years as Auburn's starting quarterback before spending all of 2019 learning from Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Patriots fans will love Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals

Patriots' Matthew Slater details his immense gratitude for Tom Brady

Patriots' Matthew Slater details his immense gratitude for Tom Brady

It's safe to say Matthew Slater has nothing but love for former New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

Brady left the Patriots in free agency earlier this month and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, ending an enormously successful run in New England that included six Super Bowl championships over 20 years.

Click here for complete Tom Brady coverage and download the MyTeams App for the latest news and analysis.

Slater was Brady's teammate for more than a decade after the Patriots selected the special teams ace in the 2008 NFL Draft. They won three Super Bowl titles and enjoyed many special moments together, and Slater talked about his deep appreciation for Brady in a conference call with the media Monday.

“I think the one thing I am feeling right now is a ton of gratitude," Slater explained. "I feel a ton of gratitude towards Tom for the way that he always treated me, the respect he always showed me from the moment I walked into this locker room. The humility with which he's always carried himself with. I’m thankful for the experiences he provided for me on the football field, experiences I’ll cherish for the rest of my life. Some magical moments being his teammate, but I'm more grateful for his friendship ... Certainly, ‘thank you’ doesn’t do it justice, but I have a lot of gratitude when I think of the name Tom Brady.”

Overcoming the loss of Brady and other key players (especially on defense) who've left the Patriots this offseason will be a tough challenge. Even though losing key players is nothing new for the Patriots -- many of them have departed New England through free agency and trades over this two-decade run of success -- but this offseason has taken it to a new level with Brady's departure.

Luckily for the Patriots, they still have a solid foundation in place with veteran leaders such as Slater, Devin McCourty, James White, Julian Edelman, head coach Bill Belichick and others, who all should be able to help the franchise navigate this unfamiliar terrain post-Brady.

Patriots fans will love Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals

How Matthew Slater defines Patriots' 'new identity' without Tom Brady

How Matthew Slater defines Patriots' 'new identity' without Tom Brady

For the first time in two decades, the New England Patriots aren't Tom Brady's team.

Brady's departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency means the Patriots' remaining veterans will need to fill the leadership void.

Special teams ace Matthew Slater is among those veterans -- and he's eager to get started.

Click here for complete Tom Brady coverage and download the MyTeams App for the latest news and analysis.

"We’re going to have to find a new identity for ourselves," Slater told reporters Monday on a conference call.

New England's longest-tenured player isn't calling for an overhaul, though. Instead, he wants to reinforce the values of the "Patriot Way" that head coach Bill Belichick has instilled over the past 20 years.

"Part of that identity is going to be built upon things that we’ve always stood for and continue to stand for: selflessness, hard work ... doing what’s best for the football team, serving one another (and) not having an expectation of things being handed to us,"  Slater said. "These are the ways that we’ve always operated and I think we’re going to have to continue to operate in the same manner, and find a new identity for ourselves."

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The Patriots' consistent approach amid notable player departures -- from Lawyer Milloy to Richard Seymour to Vince Wilfork to Logan Mankins -- has served them extremely well.

Of course, Brady was essential to that consistency as the one leader the Patriots could count on every year. Slater and fellow veterans like Devin McCourty, Julian Edelman, Patrick Chung and Dont'a Hightower are strong leaders, but they're no TB12.

Still, Slater believes New England's system is strong enough to prevent the steep drop-off that many predict for the Patriots in 2020.

"Players come and go. The reality is no player plays forever," Slater said. "So, at some point in time you have to have pillars that you stand upon that are not going to fall regardless of who’s in or out.

"I think we have good pillars in place."