Longest-tenured Patriot sees bright future for Mac Jones, addresses own status

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No one on the New England Patriots' current roster has been at it longer than Matthew Slater, who finished his 14th NFL season with Saturday's playoff loss to the Buffalo Bills.

The two-time First Team All-Pro special teamer acknowledged after the game that he's "closer to the end" of his career than the beginning, but spent the majority of his time behind the mic praising the play of teammate Mac Jones, whom he said was the type of man you hope to build a franchise around.

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"I know my kids and I will be watching him for a long time to come," Slater said. "I'm excited about where this organization is going to be in the future with him; it's certainly been an honor for me to play alongside him and see him grow over the course of the year. Patriots Nation, they should be excited about having No. 10 as a quarterback."

Slater was originally selected in the fifth round, 153rd overall, by the Patriots in the 2008 NFL Draft. Along with Matt Ryan, the third overall pick by the Atlanta Falcons, he was one of just two players from his draft class still playing for their original team in 2021.

The 36-year-old Slater earned his 10th Pro Bowl nod this past season, becoming just the second New England player to reach double figures. Tom Brady, of course, leads the way with 14 appearances as a Patriot.

Slater is one of several Patriots veterans scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, along with Devin McCourty and Dont'a Hightower.

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