FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A few follow-up thoughts on special-teams captain Matthew Slater's contract extension through 2016, which was reported by ESPN.com NFL Insider Field Yates.
Slater could have driven a harder bargain. This reminds me a little bit of linebacker Tedy Bruschi when he re-signed with the Patriots at one point later in his career. Could Bruschi have hit the market and driven a harder bargain at the time? Absolutely. But he made the decision that staying in New England was his only option, so he worked out the best deal he could with that in mind. That approach isn't for everyone, but it's the type of approach that will quickly endear a player to a team's fan base. I could have envisioned Slater making more on the open market if he assumed the risk to make it through the rest of the season healthy, but I don't think that was his mindset. It's not always about top dollar for every player.
Revisiting Slater's growth. The defining Slater story, to me, came in his rookie season (2008) when he had a kickoff return bounce off his face mask in a blowout loss to the Steelers. I relayed the story in 2011 when reflecting on Slater's first Pro Bowl berth, and the feeling here is that it sums up why he's emerged not only as a top player in his role (one of the NFL's best special-teams players), but also as a locker-room leader for others to emulate.
Who's next? Slater was one of the team's top contractual priorities as he was scheduled for free agency after the season. This gives them a head start on some important business that includes cornerback Darrelle Revis, safety Devin McCourty and kicker Stephen Gostkowski, among others scheduled to become free agents.