Grading WR Nelson Agholor’s deal with the Patriots: C+

Bill Belichick had money to spend, and he’s going to spend it.

A busy day in New England continues as the Patriots made another addition, agreeing to a deal with free agent wide receiver Nelson Agholor. After struggling to make the most of his opportunities in Philadelphia with the Eagles — and struggling to catch the football at times — Agholor joined the Las Vegas Raiders a season ago and had something of a breakout campaign.

Last year with Derek Carr, Agholor turned into more of a vertical threat. That led to his increased production, as he caught 48 passes for 896 yards and eight touchdowns. That represented a career-high mark for yardage, tied his career-high mark for touchdowns in a season, and Agholor averaged a whopping 18.7 yards per reception, over six yards higher than his previous best of 12.4 yards per reception back in 2017.

Sounds great, right?


Let’s consider this. Spotrac’s market value model projected Agholor to receiver a two-year deal for $19.5 million, working out to just under $10 million per year. Pro Football Focus projected something in the realm of $15 million for two years, coming in under $8 million per.

Of course, this contract number requires the usual caveats. It looks like $13 million per season on paper, but the bottom-line numbers might not reflect that in the end. However, this looks like a big overpay for Agholor, particularly when you look at the rest of the New England receiver room. Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry, Damiere Byrd and Gunner Olszewski provide New England with perhaps four different slot receiver options, and while Agholor emerged as more vertical of a threat last season, it is unlikely that Belichick and Josh McDaniels view him as a pure X receiver. In all likelihood, Agholor is going to see snaps at the Z, and he will probably see snaps in the slot.

So this tells us perhaps two things: It could be that the Patriots are going to look to the draft to acquire the X type of player. A wide receiver room with the above players and, say, Dyami Brown or Rashod Bateman could lead to a solid 11 personnel receiver trio. Or, when you look at the Agholor move and combine it with the addition of Jonnu Smith and last year’s pair of rookie tight ends (Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene) perhaps the Patriots are going to move to more of a 12 personnel grouping, where Smith and one of the rising second-year tight ends are on the field along with say Meyers and Agholor.

We’ll learn more about where this offense is heading over the next few weeks. Perhaps the contract is loaded more into the second year, which might see the salary cap rise, but right now, this move does seem like a reach.

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