Patriots positional review: Specialists


Finishing our positional review/offseason preview, here’s a look at the Patriots' specialists.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski

Age: 30

2013 highlights: Set a career high in terms of field goals made (38) and field goal percentage (92.7). Was a Pro Bowl selection and consistently good.

Current contract runs through: 2014 season

Punter Ryan Allen

Age: 23

2013 highlights: Planted 29 punts inside the 20-yard line and finished with a gross average of 45.9 yards per punt (39.9 net). After winning punting competition in camp, had a promising rookie year. Also was the holder for the field goal operation.

Current contract runs through: 2015 season

Long snapper Danny Aiken

Age: 25

2013 highlights: Handled long snapping duties on both punts and kicks. Had an errant snap in playoff win against Indianapolis but was largely solid otherwise.

Current contract runs through: Restricted free agent

Coverage player Matthew Slater

Age: 28

2013 highlights: Slater deserves to be mentioned on this list after another standout season as a coverage player. Had 14 special-teams tackles in 12 games and impacted field position every week. A captain and a Pro Bowl selection.

Current contract runs through: 2014 season

POSITIONAL NEED: The Patriots have a decision to make on Aiken, a restricted free agent, but if he is re-signed, the team will return its trio for next season. Gostkowski enters a contract year in 2014 and could well be an extension candidate (base salary of $2.9 million). After finishing with the top special teams in the NFL last season (according to Rick Gosselin's Dallas Morning News rankings), keeping this trio intact would be a worthwhile investment for next year and going forward.