According to a report from ESPN's Field Yates, the Patriots are bringing back special teams ace and captain Matthew Slater in free agency for a 15th season with the team.
After reportedly securing fellow veteran Devin McCourty over the weekend, this is the second move of the early days of free agency that solidifies some of the Patriots' leadership structure. With an expected influx of young players, especially on the defensive side of the ball, having two championship players like McCourty and Slater back in the house should provide a stable core for at least two of the units.
Slater continues to provide stellar special teams play as well as off-field leadership where he's often seen breaking down the post-game huddle with a personal message. One of the core leaders of the team for a decade-and-a-half, Slater is a tone-setting piece who will ensure some important continuity. Terms of the reported deal were not yet released.
In another report, via Ian Rapoport, guard Ted Karras is signing a three-year deal with the Cincinnati Bengals, as the Patriots will now have a need to replace the versatile interior lineman. Michael Onwenu could again be projected to take over at left guard as he was last year before juggling landed with Karras as the starter, but Karras' backup ability was one of his most reassuring strengths and something that is not easily replaced, even if Onwenu settles into the starting spot. It's a good deal for Karras, who was one of the most well-liked players on the roster.