Patriots' Matthew Slater announces retirement after 16 seasons in NFL

A 10-time Pro Bowler, Slater holds the record for most special teams Pro Bowl appearances in NFL history.
New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater
Posted at 4:08 PM, Feb 21, 2024

New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater is retiring after 16 seasons in the NFL. 

A 10-time Pro Bowler, Slater holds the record for most special teams Pro Bowl appearances in NFL history.

He was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL draft, from UCLA. He played his entire professional football career as a Patriot.

"For the last 25 years of my life, 16 of them as a New England Patriot, I have been incredibly blessed ... playing the game that I love so much. I have given all that I possibly can to respect and honor the game. Though it is time for my relationship with the game to evolve, the love I have for it will last a lifetime," Slater said in a statement.

"As a player, God used the game of football to instruct, discipline, encourage, and develop me as a person," he said. "In 2008, I came here as a young man with hopes and dreams. In 2024, I can retire knowing this experience has exceeded any hope or dream I ever had."

In recent years, former Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has referred to Slater as the greatest at the game in his role, according to ESPN

Belichick praised Slater upon news of his retirement.

Winslow Townson / AP Images for Panini

In a statement to ESPN, Belichick said Slater "deserves every accolade someone could receive. He is a once in a lifetime person, and the best core special teams player in NFL history. His daily, weekly, and yearly work ethic, paved the way for his unsurpassed performance."

"Matthew is the finest example of what an intense competitor and human being should be. ... Matthew is exceedingly kind, and supremely loved and respected by all his peers. I am one of many who feel incredibly blessed to be his teammate, coach, and friend," said Belichick. 

In his farewell, Slater expressed his gratitude for his longtime coach.

"To Coach Belichick: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to pursue my childhood dream. Thank you for your belief in me. You took a chance on me and kept me around when many would not have. It is a great honor to know that I played for the best coach in the history of our league," he said.

Slater also thanked his parents, wife and four children for their sacrifices and support.

The wide receiver, a team captain for 13 straight years, was often praised by teammates for his powerful postgame speeches that encompassed faith and often related football to life, according to ESPN.