Nelson Agholor’s second season did not go as planned. He entered 2016 hopeful that he could rebound after a disappointing rookie campaign interrupted by a vexing ankle injury. Instead, Agholor’s best game came in Week 1 and his season was mired by miscues and a midseason crisis of confidence that caused a one-game benching.
With more time and perspective, Agholor has better insight on what he believed to be the problem.
“It’s something that I should have just allowed to flow,” Agholor said during the last week of the season. “I think too many times in the season, when I was in those moments, I was trying to be the controller of things. And I’m not… I’m just a player, and this is a reaction game. When I go on the field, my only objective is to react. I know I have talent, but I just react. I can’t control what comes my way. I can’t control everything. Thinking too much almost takes away those natural abilities of reaction and instinct. Now that I’m away from it, I’m like, ‘Man, you know what you can do. Train, and let what you train show itself on a Sunday.’”
Agholor played 78 percent of the offensive snaps – the most of any wide receiver on the roster – but finished fifth on the team in receiving with 36 catches for 365 yards and two touchdowns. Coaches praised his blocking ability on the perimeter, which is essentially the Riley Cooper treatment – a way of justifying a lot of playing time for not enough production.
It was a new offense for Agholor, and he admitted it took him time to fully understand what was expected of him. (Catching is a good place to start.) But he moved around to different spots, which he didn’t do as much of in his rookie season, and he believes a full offseason the system will help him for next year.
“This will be an offseason where I feel I’ll be coming back to the same offense, so I have experience in this offense, knowledge of this offense,” Agholor said. “As I train my routes and watch film, I watch film of myself and how I can better do what I was trying to do out there.”
He said it would be important to add muscle to his frame. Agholor is listed at 6 feet and 198 pounds. He said more weight is important for breaking tackles in the return game, which Agholor hopes to be a part of next season.
He added that he also must “come to peace with myself, with my life,” so that he’s not battling any mental hurdles next season. That’s a major a point of emphasis compared to last offseason.
“I would say, just relax,” Agholor said. “Let the game be the game. One of the craziest things about this game is plays will be made, and you don’t determine it sometimes. They just get made, and you react to them. Opportunities come, and you run hard, you play hard, and you always have a clear mind. Opportunities come, and you execute them. I would tell myself, ‘Hey, relax. Play hard. And things will come your way.’’
Agholor will count $2.56 million against the salary cap next season, but the Eagles would incur a $4.94 million salary cap hit if they released him. The salary cap hit would be less burdensome if the Eagles traded him, which would give Agholor a change of scenery that could potentially benefit both sides. But Agholor has talent – he was a first-round pick for a reason – and the Eagles could also be patient and continue developing him. Changes are expected at wide receiver in 2017, but a changed Agholor would also be a good thing for the Eagles.
“I’m confident I’ll do everything in my power to be where I need to be,” Agholor said. “I love this team, and I would love to be part of what I’ve already been a part of it.”