Slater provides locker room leadership and epitomizes Bill Belichick's philosophy of "next-man-up" as he has played on special teams, while filling a role as a potential deep threat at receiver and an additional safety on defense. Slater may not have much upside as an offensive or defensive player, but his special teams ability commands the respect of those in the locker room.
The Patriots have also brought back special teams linebackers Tracy White and Niko Koutouvides. White and Koutouvides are integral members of the Patriots special teams units and moonlight as depth linebackers on the Patriots roster. White was the 4th linebacker on the Patriots depth chart towards the end of the season, while Koutouvides helped in short-field defense.
The return of these core three special teams players shows the value coach Bill Belichick places on all phases of the game. Look for the Patriots to try and find a top level return-man over the next month.