Make the Case: Should Patriots special teams legend Matthew Slater make the Hall of Fame?

Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18)
Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater (18) / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots will begin a new era in 2024. For the first time this century, Bill Belichick will not be the head coach. The man who brought nine Super Bowl appearances to the franchise and led the team to six championships will be elsewhere this year.

Another Patriots’ legend is also leaving Foxborough after 16 seasons with the organization. Special teams’ performer extraordinaire Matthew Slater has called it a career. He was part of three Super Bowl title teams, was named to 10 Pro Bowls and earned a pair of All-Pro nods.

The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame tackle Jackie Slater, who like his son played his entire career with one organization, has earned high praise for his football prowess from his head coach.

“I feel like I’ve coached the best offensive (Tom Brady), defensive (Lawrence Taylor) and special-teams player (Matthew Slater) of all-time,” said Belichick (via The 33rd Team). “As a core special-teamer, Slater is the best of all time. I hope he gets recognized for that.”

Matthew Slater retires: Is Patriots legend a Hall-of-Famer?

The natural question regarding Slater is whether he is destined, like his father, to wind up with a bust in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. A resumé that includes 10 Pro Bowls and a pair of All-Pro honors is certainly hard to ignore. Of course, Steve Tasker was a seven-time special teams Pro Bowler with the Buffalo Bills and was a 2024 Semifinalist for the Hall of Fame. However, he’s yet to break through.

There are only two pure placekickers (Jan Stenerud and Morten Andersen), just one pure punter (Ray Guy) and now a return artist (Class of 2024 member Devin Hester) who have a home in the Hall in Canton, Ohio. The feeling here is that with Hester getting the nod, perhaps the mindset has changed with some voters in terms of special teams. Could Tasker be a Hall of Famer sooner than later? The NFL’s all-time scoring leader, Adam Vinatieri, will be eligible for the Class of 2025.

As for Slater, there’s that five-year wait, and he would certainly be considered for the Class of 2029. With all of his many accomplishments, he is certainly worthy of first-ballot consideration.

Now that would be special, and the appropriate thing to do. Times may indeed be changing.