The Friday after the Super Bowl isn't usually a noteworthy day in many places around the NFL, but that's not the case in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The Patriots announced that special teams captain Matthew Slater, who will be 38 by the time Week 1 rolls around in 2023, will return for his 16th NFL season. The 15-year veteran was the team's fifth-round pick (153rd overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft -- the draft after New England's near-perfect 18-1 season in 2007.
"It is a great honor and blessing to return to the Patriots for my 16th season," Slater said. "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."
Slater ranks second in team history with 223 total games played and is the team's all-time leader with 172 total special teams tackles in the regular season, and 23 special teams tackles in the postseason.
"Matt's incredible career is a testament to his preparation and will to succeed," Belichick said. "We are thrilled he will be playing this season."
The 6-foot, 205-pound Slater is a 12-time team captain and has earned 10 Pro Bowl selections on special teams, the most special teams Pro Bowl accolades in NFL history. Steve Tasker has the second most with seven Pro Bowl selections. The only other players who were active during the 2022 NFL season with 10 or more Pro Bowl nods were Tampa Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (15) and Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (10).
With Slater continuing to play football, he and Rodgers -- for now -- rank as two of the longest-tenured active players on their respective teams. Slater's 15 seasons played rank as the third-most such seasons in the NFL behind only Rodgers' 18 and kicker Mason Crosby's 16 with the Green Bay Packers.
Below is a list of active players with the most consecutive seasons played with their current teams:
Green Bay Packers
QB Aaron Rodgers
Green Bay Packers
K Mason Crosby
New England Patriots
WR/ST Matthew Slater
TE/LS Clark Harris
C/LS J.J. Jansen
*Punter Kevin Huber played 14 consecutive seasons with the Bengals from 2009-2002, but was released from the practice squad on Feb. 6.
With Slater continuing to play NFL football in 2023, he can continue padding his special teams records in pursuit of a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Slater finished with 13 special teams tackles last season for his 11th year with double-digit special teams takedowns. Those 11 seasons with 10 or more special teams tackles are the most-such seasons in the NFL since the start of the 21st Century.