David Andrews never expected he’d make it this far in his career when he entered the NFL in 2015, but almost six years later, the Patriots center is more than appreciative of where he is.
And as he enters free agency for the first time in his career, he’d like to remain a Patriot, the only professional home he’s known.
“Of course,” Andrews said. “I mean, this place is special to me, and the community. So we’ll see.”
It’s been a wild ride for Andrews, who was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent, became a starter as a rookie and was a key part of two Super Bowl-winning teams. Then last year came, as everything was put in perspective when he was diagnosed with blood cots in his lungs that forced him to miss the entire 2019 season.
Andrews made an emotional return this season and made 12 starts, something he doesn’t take for granted given what he went through last year and the prior uncertainty of a season being played at all due to COVID-19.
“I’m so grateful to get to play this year,” Andrews said. “With my personal situation and then there were days in the spring, I didn’t know if we would play football this year. Even when it was growing closer and closer, it seemed more and more daunting to get this done. And then just everything else. It was such an emotional year as a team and some things we went through. What a wild year. …
“I’m grateful for this year, grateful to be on this team and I think football-wise, 2020 wasn’t what we all wanted it to be, but very grateful to get to go back out there and I had a lot of fun playing this year.”
As Andrews talked about his journey to this point on Monday, he was visibly emotional and even choked up through Zoom. He’s certainly come a long way and gone through a lot over his first six years in the league.
“I think if you said six years ago, would you think you’d be sitting here or something, I would probably be like no, I’d probably have a little shot at the league and then sell insurance or be a high school football coach and teach, who knows,” Andrews said. It’s crazy to be in this position now and I came here as an undrafted guy and not a lot of people came and visited or worked me out, but Coach (Bill Belichick) did and that always meant a lot to me. I’ve seen a lot of people be in this position I am now and I’ve been fortunate to play this game and not really see the business side of it personally.”
White, Slater mull futures
James White is also entering free agency for the first time in his career. The 28-year-old running back this season posted his lowest numbers (49 receptions for 375 yards and 35 carries for 121 yards) since 2015, but he said he has a lot left in the tank.
“I’m still very young, I still have a lot of good football left in me,” White said. “I didn’t play my first couple years, so that kind of knocked two years off my career shelf life, but I feel like I have plenty of good football left in me and wherever my future takes me, I’m excited about it and excited to be more productive next season.”
Matthew Slater is under contract through next season, but the 35-year-old special teams ace said Monday he would take some time to think about his future. He was also asked if he would consider staying with the Patriots in some capacity after he retires and he seemed receptive to the idea.
“I love this organization. It’s the only real job I’ve ever had, so I feel like I owe a debt to this organization,” Slater said. “They’ve provided myself and my family with tremendous opportunity. I’m always going to support this organization, always going to, if they ask me to do anything, as far as I see fit I’ll try to step up in that role, but I haven’t thought about that and I don’t know what opportunities may present themselves beyond my playing career here, but I’d certainly keep an open mind to it and as long as it’s reasonable and it works for my family, then it’s something I’d keep an open mind towards.”
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