Patriots

Nelson Agholor pledges to play even faster in second season with the Patriots

"I'm excited to have my best season with the Patriots and show why I’m here."

Nelson Agholor Patriots
New England Patriots wide receiver Nelson Agholor runs with the ball during the team's Wild-card playoff football game against the Buffalo Bills. AP Photo/Adrian Kraus
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Nelson Agholor hears all the speculation about his future with the Patriots after the DeVante Parker trade and the drafting of Tyquan Thornton this offseason. When the 2022 season ends, Agholor will hit free agency once again.

But he’s intent on letting the media focus on that.

“I’m here for a reason,” he said, and worrying about the salary cap or who might take his job isn’t it.

“I love the opportunity that’s given to me to be a Patriot, to work hard. And the best part about it: Year 2 in the Patriots’ system is when guys really get going. I feel comfortable. I’m excited to have my best season with the Patriots and show why I’m here.”

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Last year, Agholor, who’s heading into his eighth NFL season, struggled to make much hay within the Patriots’ offense. Though he excelled at opening things up for others, he didn’t put up much in the way of numbers himself (37 catches for 473 yards and three touchdowns) while being used heavily as an outside-the-numbers receiver.

But rather than lament what was past, Agholor chose to keep perspective instead.

“[Last season] went the way it was supposed to for me to grow. I can’t really look at it any other way,” he said of his 2021 campaign. “I needed to grow. I needed to adapt. I needed to be able to do what I wanted to do. I think everything happens for a reason. I’m not going to get upset about this or that because it’s in the past. What I do have in front of me is a really wonderful opportunity this year to be who I’m supposed to be and play the way I want to play.”

Some of that improvement, he said, will come from simply knowing the Patriots’ playbook and route tree, which he says is “unique” compared to other teams, better than last season and “to put my own spin on how we do things and play fast.”

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He might also see more time being moved around in the offense thanks to the arrival of Parker, who was part of the same draft class as Agholor and a fellow Adidas signee, as the big-bodied “X” receiver the Patriots didn’t have last year.

On top of that, he also talked about the importance of having Mac Jones coming into this season as the unquestioned starter after he wrested the job from Cam Newton in 2021.

“We know each other…we know who the quarterback is,” he said. “And I think we have a good opportunity to just take our communication level to another level.

“I love the way [Mac] communicates,” he added, praising Jones’s training habits and leadership in the offseason. “That’s something that allows you to grow together and work together because communication is the key to every great relationship. He does a great job telling me what he sees. He totally does a great job of telling me what he likes about what I’m doing…And once you know, it’s less gray area.”

Of course, it might help if there was more clarity with the offensive coaching staff and play-calling this season and how they might help Agholor improve. (He predictably deflected questions about who would call offensive plays or coach the receivers this season.)

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There’s also the possibility that Thornton proves so electric the Patriots end up putting him on the field at Agholor’s expense.

But as things stand right now, the speedy veteran looks like a decent bet to stick with New England throughout the 2022 season. Both he and the Patriots have to find a way to make the most of it.

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