BOSTON (CBS) -- As NFL teams get to work to shape their rosters for 2022 and beyond, some veteran Patriots free agents are letting it be known that they intend to continue their careers in the coming season.
NFL Network's Mike Giardi tweeted on Tuesday -- amid a day of craziness in the NFL -- that Dont'a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Matthew Slater and James White all plan to play next season.
McCourty's and White's intentions had already been reported, but Hightower and Slater were new additions to that list.
Those four players have 43 years of combined Patriots experience and 30 combined years as Patriots captains, and it's not yet know if some, all or none will be returning to Foxboro in 2022.
Hightower opted out of the 2020 season due to coronavirus concerns, which fueled retirement speculation last season. Hightower did return to play out the final year of his contract, starting 15 games for New England, registering 64 tackles but just 1.5 sacks and four quarterback hits.
Hightower will turn 32 years old on March 12.
Slater has been the Patriots' longest-tenured player since Tom Brady departed, having been drafted all the way back in 2008. The special teams ace hasn't missed a game since 2017, earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in each of the past three seasons. He's now made 10 Pro Bowls in his career.
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