Despite the departure of veteran quarterback Tom Brady to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, special teamer Matthew Slater declared that the New England Patriots’ goal is to continue their winning tradition. “I don’t think the goals change at all,” Slater said during a conference call with New England reporters as he addressed, among other things, Brady’s decision to sign a two-year deal worth $50 million with the Buccaneers after a 20-year stint with the Patriots. “I think if you go into the season with a defeatist attitude, you can’t expect to be successful,” said Slater, adding that the Patriots have a lot of good football players and a tremendous coaching staff.

Considered one of the important voices and leader in the Patriots’ locker room, Slater said fans should expect the Patriots to enter the season with the same drive, focus and determination, despite Brady’s departure. In the interview, Slater expressed gratitude to Brady for the respect he displayed on him from the moment he joined the Patriots. Slater also lauded Brady’s humility and thanked him for the friendship that they developed during their time together in New England.

Slater says Patriots need to find new identity

Slater admitted that Brady meant a lot to the Patriots’ organization and a lot of the team’s identity was centered around the veteran quarterback. With Brady now gone, Slater said the challenge for the remaining player is to find the team’s new identity.

However, he clarified that the Patriots’ new identity would still be based o the things that they stand for -- selflessness, hard work and making good decisions. “I think we’re going to have to continue to operate in the same manner that we always have and find a new identity for ourselves,” said Slater, who recently signed a two-year extension worth an average of $2.6 million per year.

Aside from Brady, the Patriots lost several key players in linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts, defensive tackle Danny Shelton, special teamer Nate Ebner and kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Van Noy signed a lucrative four-year deal worth $51 million with the Miami Dolphins while Collins received a three-year pact worth $30 million from the Detroit Lions.

Slater backs Stidham as starter

Currently, the Patriots have three quarterbacks in their roster – Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler. Stidham is presumed to be next starter for the Patriots, unless the team adds another veteran quarterback. When asked about the possibility of Stidham being their starter next season, Slater gave a positive endorsement on the second-year player from Auburn. “Certainly, he has a lot of great qualities that can make him a good player at the quarterback position,” said Slater, adding that Stidham’s approach should be one day at a time. Slater said he will encourage Stidham just to be himself and embrace the process of being the Patriots’ starter one day at a time.