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Matthew Slater returning to the Patriots will not impact Devin McCourty’s decision whether to continue his own career

One veteran will be back in 2022. The other is still TBD.

New England Patriots (24) Vs. Las Vegas Raiders (30) At Allegiant Stadium Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Following the New England Patriots’ 2022 season finale in Buffalo, there was speculation that long-time team captains Devin McCourty and Matthew Slater might be a package deal moving forward. The thought at the time was that if one would decide to continue his career, so would the other.

With Slater recently announcing his return for another season, the first shoe has already dropped. Now, all eyes are on McCourty.

However, the 35-year-old has not yet made a decision — something he reiterated on Monday while co-hosting NFL Network’s Good Morning Football.

“I’m still figuring it out. I’ve gone back and forth,” he said while co-hosting NFL Network’s Good Morning Football. “Very hard to make this decision. I actually thought it would be easy during the year. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll decide that — take a little time and I’ll just decide.’ But each time I think I know what I want to do, it gets a little cloudy.”

McCourty added that watching the playoffs pulled him more toward continuing his career, whereas the offseason grind is working in the opposite direction. Ultimately, however, it will come down to what he and his family think is best for them.

What McCourty did point out, however, is that Slater returning in 2023 will not be the overall deciding factor whether or not he will continue his own career. While the first half of his conversation about his long-time teammate was a less-than-serious one, the second half made it clear that the decision will be his alone.

“We were supposed to both be deciding,” he said. “He texts me and goes, ‘Hey I just talked to Bill [Belichick]. I’m going back. Don’t make me do this alone.’ Whoa, whoa, whoa. When did you decide to go back? I thought you would text me?

“And then, now, he goes on CBS up in New England with Steve Burton and they’re like, ‘You want Devin to come back,’ and he goes, ‘Where’s that camera?’ Right here. He goes, ‘Dev, I’m back, Let’s go. Come back.’ So, I wouldn’t call it a great friendship. He’s kind of putting me on the spot right here.”

At that point, McCourty turned the seriousness on again.

“Slate’s — other than you — that’s my guy,” he said, talking to his twin brother and fellow co-host (as well as ex-Patriots cornerback) Jason McCourty. “It’s definitely cool seeing him go back. Will it have an impact on me? Not really, just for the fact that I can’t play for him, he can’t play for me. It just has to ultimately be my decision.

“But if I did go back, it would be with him in that locker room. We both talked about it: it’s hard to envision playing football without each other in the locker room. But, ultimately I have to make the decision what’s best for me and my family. My wife wouldn’t be happy if I came back and was like, ‘Well, Slate’s going back. Sorry, honey, no matter what you think we’re going back!’”

Slater and McCourty joined the Patriots in 2008 and 2010, respectively, and have both served as captains since 2011. Together, they helped the organization win three Super Bowls.