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Patriots special teams captain Slater retires after 16 years

Maddie Meyer / Getty Images Sport / Getty

New England Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater announced his retirement on Tuesday after 16 NFL seasons.

Considered one of the greatest gunners in NFL history, Slater helped the Patriots win three Super Bowls. The 39-year-old finishes his career with 10 Pro Bowl nods, the most ever for a special teams player.

"In 2008, I came here as a young man with hopes and dreams," the former fifth-round pick wrote in a statement. "In 2024, I can retire knowing this experience has exceeded any hope or dream I ever had."

Slater also claimed eight All-Pro berths, including five first-team selections. Pro Football Writers of America voted him as a first-team All-Pro three times before The Associated Press began including special teamers in its All-Pro squad in 2016.

He made 239 regular-season appearances for the Patriots and played in 25 playoff games, serving as a special teams cornerstone of Bill Belichick outfit in New England. Belichick recently described Slater as the greatest gunner of all time.

Slater, who was originally drafted as a wide receiver, caught just one pass throughout his career. The UCLA product also returned kicks for the Patriots.

Slater presumably has the credentials to eventually be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but history hasn't been kind to former gunners looking for a bust in Canton. Former Buffalo Bills special teamer Steve Tasker, who retired with seven Pro Bowl nods and five first-team All-Pro berths, is yet to be inducted despite being a semifinalist on eight occasions.

Slater's father, Jackie, became a Hall of Famer in 2001 after posting a decorated career as an offensive tackle for the Los Angeles Rams.

The Patriots kicked off a new era in 2024 after parting ways with Belichick. New England, which went 4-13 in 2023, recently named Jerod Mayo as its next head coach.

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