FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey, cornerback Stephon Gilmore and special teams captain Matthew Slater have been selected to represent the New England Patriots in the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl. Due to COVID-19, the 2021 NFL Pro Bowl will be held as a week-long virtual event instead of a football game between conference all-stars.
Bailey has earned his first career Pro Bowl invitation. The second-year punter leads the NFL with a net average of 46.1 yards per punt and ranks second in the AFC with an average of 48.7 yards per punt. Bailey also leads the AFC with 24 punts downed inside the opponent 20-yard line. His net and gross punt averages are both on pace to set new single-season franchise records. Bailey's punting in 2020 has also allowed just 46 return yards so far, second in the NFL behind the 38 yards allowed by New Orleans. The Patriots record for fewest punt return yards allowed in a season is 75 in 2007. Bailey also handles kickoff duties and is the primary holder on extra points and field-goal attempts. He is now the second punter in franchise history to earn Pro Bowl honors, joining Rich Camarillo, who was voted to the Pro Bowl in 1983.
Gilmore is headed to his fourth career Pro Bowl, his third consecutive with the Patriots. The nine-year veteran has started all 11 games he has played at cornerback this season and has totaled 37 tackles, one interception, three passes defensed and one forced fumble. In 2019, Gilmore earned the Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year honors. He led the NFL with 20 passes defensed and tied for the league with six interceptions.
Slater has been named to his ninth career Pro Bowl as a special teams player, extending his record for most special teams Pro Bowl honors in NFL history. Steve Tasker is second with seven. Slater is now tied with John Hannah for the second-most Pro Bowl selections in franchise history, behind the 14 by Tom Brady. The former fifth-round draft pick out of UCLA earned a roster position with the Patriots as a rookie in 2008 with his contributions on special teams. Entering the 2011 season, teammates elected him as their special teams captain. That year, he was also selected to his first Pro Bowl. Since then, he has earned special teams captain honors to start each season and been voted to the Pro Bowl at season's end every year except 2018. Slater has led the Patriots in special teams tackles for seven of his 12 seasons and has five special teams tackles in 2020.