There are many new faces on the Patriots compared to last year. The Pats acquired four guys from trade, fifteen from free agency, and nine from the NFL Draft. They also lost nine players from trade and free agency and had three players retire.
In this new series, I will be looking at every player from each position leading up to training camp. For this installment I will talk about the special teams. The Pats special teamers have not changed that much over the years, but it could be different this year. They did not lose any key special teamers, but they added an undrafted rookie punter.
Stephen Gostkowski #3 (2006-Present):
Stephen Gostkowski is the second longest-tenured Patriot player behind Tom Brady. He is entering his thirteenth year for the team this upcoming season. Gostkowski was drafted in the fourth-round in the 2006 NFL Draft and was immediately expected to replace Adam Vinatieri. Over his career, Gostkowski has played in 184 games. He has 340 FGM on 388 FGA, and 593 XPM made on 599 XPM. He holds the all-time record for most consecutive extra-points made with 479. Gostkowski is a four-time pro bowler, two-time first team All-Pro, one-time second team All-Pro, and is 18th in all-time scoring in NFL history.
Gostkowski drilled this from SIXTY-TWO yards out. It may have had the distance to go 72. pic.twitter.com/njK1mhDFTA
— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) November 19, 2017
Gostkowski has proven to be one of the best-kickers in NFL history over his career. His career has been weird the past few years, missing more extra points than usual. One of his misses came in the AFC Championship in 2015, which cost the Pats the game. With Gostkowski being one of the best kickers in the league, coupled with the Pats not having another kicker, he is a virtual lock to make the team.
Ryan Allen #6 (2013-Present):
Ryan Allen is entering his sixth year in the NFL and for the Patriots. He has been the starting punter and holder for the Pats ever since he entered the league. Allen has played in all 80 games in his career. He has 345 punts, 45.3 yards per punt, and 127 punts inside the 20.
Look at the move Slater puts on here to get around the blocker. And another perfect punt by Ryan Allen. It’s like he was throwing these to Slater. And Slater catches it in the air like he’s calling fair catch. Clinical. #Patriots pic.twitter.com/H7s7lio8qB
— Evan Lazar (@ezlazar) January 4, 2018
As a left-footed punter, Ryan Allen is exactly the type of player the Patriots value. However, last year was his worst year as a pro. He only averaged 43 yards per punt. He is more known for pinning the opponents back inside their own 20 yard line, but he sometimes cuts a punt too short. Also, he has been shaky as a holder the past few seasons. Allen will have some competition this year as he is not the only punter on the roster.
Matthew Slater #18 (2008-Present):
Matthew Slater is entering his eleventh season in the NFL and for the Pats. He was the 153rd overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of UCLA. Slater has been one of the best, if not the best, special-teamer of all-time. As a returner, Slater has 35 returns, 637 yards, and 0 TD. He makes his money as a gunner on special teams. Over his career, he has 53 special teams tackles and 1 forced fumble. He has been recognized as a seven-time pro bowler, four-time first team All-Pro, one-time second team All-Pro, and a two-time Super Bowl champion.
Matthew Slater's only catch of his career: 46 yard bomb vs Miami in 2011 pic.twitter.com/dAMrb79nDk
— Prime Bam Childress (@fearthe_beard11) March 17, 2018
Slater has been a captain ever since the 2011 since. He is quite the vocal leader. He was a free agent this past offseason. It looked like Pittsburgh was going to sign him. Instead, Slater resigned with New England on a two-year deal. There is really no chance that he will be released.
Joe Cardona #49 (2015-Present):
Joe Cardona is entering his fourth year in the NFL and for the Patriots. He was drafted 166th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft out of the Naval Academy. This made Cardona only the fourth pure long-snapper selected in the NFL Draft, and second for the Pats. Cardona has played in all 48 games in his NFL career so far, and has made contributions in both of the Super Bowls that he has played in.
Cardona has been a very good long snapper for New England in his career. Being one of the best long-snappers in the league, he will most likely make the roster.
Corey Bojorquez (Rookie):
Corey Bojorquez is the only addition to the Patriots special teams groups this summer. Bojorquez was picked up by New England as an undrafted free agent out of New Mexico State. He started 25 games in his last two years at NMSU. In those games, he had 116 punts and 45.1 average yards per punt.
Bojorquez is a lefty punter. He got a spot with the team after his tryout and can give Ryan Allen a real run for that punter spot.
Overall, the Patriots consistently have one of the best special teams in the entire NFL. It looks like this trend will only continue this season.