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Will Patriots WR Nelson Agholor Bounce Back in 2022?

The highly touted free agency signing has been underwhelming through one year.

The summer of 2021 marked the first time in years that Bill Belichick decided to spend a significant amount of money during free agency. Of all his acquisitions, wide receiver Nelson Agholor was one of the most hyped -- and yet, his first year with the New England Patriots has been underwhelming at best.

Patriots WR Nelson Agholor
agholor
Nelson Agholor

Agholor was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft. During his tenure in the City of Brotherly Love, Agholor found himself separating somewhat effectively; however, his issues surrounding drops seemed to plague him. Despite being an easy scapegoat for Eagles fans, Agholor produced relatively effectively, putting up 768 receiving yards and 736 receiving yards in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

After the culmination of his rookie contract, Agholor was signed by the Las Vegas Raiders in 2020. With the Raiders, Agholor had the best season of his career, with 896 receiving yards, 8 receiving touchdowns, and an incredibly 18.7 yards per reception.

As the 2021 free agency period approached, Agholor was touted as being a legitimate first option at X- or Z-receiver. After signing with the Patriots later that period he seemed poised to make an impact.

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In fact, Agholor caught rookie quarterback Mac Jones' first ever touchdown pass in the NFL in a Week 1 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Yet, despite a significant 2 year, $22 million contract with nearly $15 million in cap hit in 2022, Agholor didn't produce; he had just 473 yards and 3 touchdowns all season. Though he showed flashes of deep chemistry with Jones, the connection just never really developed consistently.

With the Patriots drafting wide receiver Tyquan Thornton out of Baylor University in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft, Agholor's status as the resident speedster of the receiving corps is suddenly in jeopardy. However, there is a legitimately chance that Agholor may get a "make-over" in his role with the team.

Tyquan Thornton
Patriots - Tyquan Thornton Combine 40
Patriots QB Mac Jones (10) and WR Nelson Agholor (15)

Agholor remains a fluid route runner who can thrive in the intermediate passing game. In 2022, Agholor's deep ball receiving suffered since he was the only legitimate option downfield and was often double-covered -- however, with Thornton being another speedster, there's a chance that defensive attention shifts away from Agholor. 

As a result, Agholor may actually end up have a statistically better season despite seeing the same or even decreased snap counts. Regardless, with the last year of his contract quickly approaching, Agholor will have to start producing significantly more if he wants a second contract with New England.