Stephen Gostkowski has seen it all over the course of his 13-year NFL career. At this point, there aren’t too many surprises. That’s what made this offseason so different.

For the first time in his life, he became a free agent, at age 35.

Gostkowski approached March with an open mind. Then the days went by. Then the weeks went by. Before he knew it, it was April and he still didn’t have a contract for 2019. Teams started to approach Gostkowski’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, about opportunities elsewhere. One of those teams were reportedly the San Francisco 49ers.

In the end, Gostkowski stayed home, signing a two-year, $8.5-million deal with the Patriots. After spending his entire career in Foxboro and starting a family in the area, this kicker never wanted to leave.

“Well, I played 13 years and have never been a free agent so I had no idea what to expect,” Gostkowski said. “Having a lot of time to sit back and think what I really wanted, really reassured me how much I really did want to be here. Couldn’t have been happier that it worked out the way it did. It was a weird experience. Eight, nine years ago when I don’t have kids and a family and roots here, it’s a completely different ball game.

″... It’s nice when other teams show interest in you and stuff like that. But at the end of the day, I would like to try to finish where I started. That meant a lot to me. It meant a lot to my kids and my family. We are ecstatic to have two more shots to play for the Patriots.”

Gostkowski finished last season connecting on 84.4% of his field goals. That number was down from 92.5% of the kicks he made in 2017. The kicker improved with his extra point attempts, making 98% compared to the 95.7% in 2017 and 93.9% in 2016. In Super Bowl LIII, Gostkowski made 2 of 3 field goals in the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams.