Patriots Could Release $22 Million Free Agent Signing

Nelson Agholor

Getty Patriots WR Nelson Agholor

The 2021 season was a disappointment for Nelson Agholor. The New England Patriots signed him to a two-year, $22 million deal, but in his only seasons with the team, Agholor produced numbers well beneath what he’d tallied the year before with the Las Vegas Raiders.

There is rampant speculation the Patriots could pursue a trade that would see the team bring in draft assets for the veteran receiver, but there is also at least one analyst who believes Agholor could be released.

Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton predicts the Patriots will release Agholor, which would save them just under $5 million. That may not sound like a huge amount, but sometimes the smaller savings are what help an NFL team to have the sort of flexibility needed when it wants to explore a late-season acquisition.

Trading Agholor still makes the most sense for the Patriots, if they choose to part ways with him. The team he lands with would be on the hook for his $10 million 2022 salary, and New England would get draft picks back in return.

Unfortunately, Agholor may not get a ton of opportunities to showcase his talents for another team. The Patriots’ wide receiver room is a competitive one this year. New England took steps to address with the trade for DeVante Parker as well as the drafting of second-round pick TyQuan Thornton.

Agholor had an excellent 2020 season for the Las Vegas Raiders, but things were different in Las Vegas. In his only year with the Raiders, Agholor had 48 receptions for 896 yards and 8 touchdowns.

With the Patriots in 2022, Agholor saw his numbers dip to 37 receptions for 473 yards and 3 touchdowns. Perhaps that’s why Agholor is working as the fourth receiver on the Patriots’ depth chart, per CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar.

“But based on what we’ve seen in two open practices, the early-front runners to dominate reps at wide receiver in 11-personnel are DeVante Parker (X), Kendrick Bourne (Z), and Jakobi Meyers (slot),” Lazar wrote. “That means Nelson Agholor is currently the fourth wide receiver backing up Parker, while second-round pick Tyquan Thornton isn’t in the conversation yet.

“Insurance for Parker is needed given his extensive injury history. But Agholor’s $14.9 million cap hit for a fourth receiver stands out as something the team might take a long look at down the road if Thornton begins to catch on in training camp. New England would save $9.06 million against the salary cap if they can find a trade partner for Agholor, while they’ll save $4.06 million if they cut the veteran wideout.”


Agholor Has a Lot to Prove to the Patriots

Even though Agholor seems to have been relegated to the fourth receiver spot early on in OTAs, the biggest factor when it comes to the 29-year-old’s expendability will be the development of Thornton.

The Patriots selected Thornton in the second round in hopes of him becoming their primary deep-ball threat. Thornton has displayed the ability to stretch a defense in college where he had 62 receptions for 948 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2021. The sooner Thornton can prove he’s ready to assume his role in the NFL, the sooner the Patriots have no real need for Agholor.


In Other Patriots News: DeVante Parker Could Become What N’Keal Harry Was Supposed to Be

According to NFL.com’s Mike Giardi, Parker has a chance to become Mac Jones’ “bail-out guy.” At 6-foot-3, 219 pounds, Parker is by far the biggest and most physical receiver on the roster–besides Harry.

Unfortunately, Harry hasn’t reported to OTAs, which is fueling the thoughts that he may have already played his last game for the Patriots. Unlike Harry, Parker has an excellent season under his belt,

Parker had a spectacular season while with the Miami Dolphins in 2019. Parker snagged 72 passes for 1,202 yards and 9 touchdowns. Harry’s best season in the NFL was 2020 when he had just 33 receptions for 309 yards and 2 touchdowns.

If Parker remains healthy and in tune with Jones, it’ll be an easy decision for the Patriots to trade Harry.

 

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