As he heads into his fifth NFL season, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor has the heaviest weight on his shoulders out of any other wide receiver.
Looking back at the early playing days of former first-round pick, Nelson Agholor it is quite shocking to know he’s still on the Philadelphia Eagles. When the former USC standout joined the Eagles, he was viewed as the teams’ potential Jeremy Maclin replacement. An exciting start to his first NFL training camp raised the bar high, and Agholor undoubtedly failed to exceed expectations.
Agholor would wrap up his rookie season in 2015 with 283 yards and a single touchdown. Perhaps, Chip Kelly was the problem? As we know, Chip’s loss of the locker room didn’t exactly boost team morale and motivate players to want to do better. Unfortunately, that wasn’t it either.
The following year, the Eagles looked to Agholor to be one of Carson Wentz’s primary targets during the new era of Doug Pederson coaching. And once again, Agholor failed to meet the expectations of being a first-round pick. With only 365 yards and two touchdowns, Agholor was slowly creeping towards getting slapped with the “bust” label.
Pederson did his homework the following offseason and figured out what the issue was. Back at USC, Agholor thrived as a wideout, but he played explicitly in the slot. So the Eagles decided to test out Agholor there during the 2017 season, and to our surprise, he re-introduced himself as one of the league’s most talented slot wideouts. Agholor’s 768 yards and eight touchdowns convinced the Eagles to pick up his fifth-year option before he even approached his contract year.
Although Agholor didn’t break through the barriers in year four after collecting career-highs all across the board in 2017, he still remained on the Eagles payroll for 2019. Once Agholor was guaranteed over $9 million, trade speculation rolled in. At this point, the Eagles don’t seem to want to move Agholor. Instead, they want to see how he works solely in the slot once again with even more weapons surrounding him on the offense.
The Pressure’s on Agholor
Out of all of the wide receivers who are most likely to make the final 53-man roster, Agholor is easily under the most pressure in 2019. Alshon Jeffery, the Eagles’ biggest target over the last two years is still locked in for the next three seasons. DeSean Jackson is a seasoned veteran, who the Eagles just traded for and re-structured to ensure he’s here until 2022 as well.
Mack Hollins and JJ Arcega-Whiteside are recent draft picks for the Eagles who are still on their cheap rookie deals. Then, the rest of the depth at the position is just roster hopefuls at this point. That leaves Agholor as the man with the most weight on his shoulders for 2019.
The last two seasons have been decent for Agholor, but surely not worth a major extension from the Eagles. With defensive secondaries attempting to keep Jackson covered down the field in 2019, they know they will have to try and zero in on Alshon Jeffery as well, knowing he’s a strong pass catcher.
Meanwhile, Zach Ertz could easily be open at any moment too. With the way Jackson, Jeffery, and Ertz have produced over the last couple of years, Agholor could simply become a forgotten target to a defense. That’s when Agholor can really make his money.
As the Eagles are unsure of whether they want to lock in Agholor beyond 2019 or not, he will have to prove he’s worth keeping as such a significant portion of the payroll is being dished out towards the wideouts. If he cannot take that next step with the team in 2019, he could be looking for a new team on the free agency market next season.
So far, Agholor has turned heads at training camp once again. While he remains focused on winning, the fifth-year wideout is trying to keep the dollar signs out of his mind as he recognizes what’s at stake during his contract year. He might’ve been a late bloomer in the NFL, but the former first-rounder is no stranger to pressure. He’s proved his doubters wrong in 2017, and now he has the opportunity to do the same in 2019.