A few of the moves the New England Patriots executed last week were no-brainers.
Others? Not so much.
The Patriots’ decision to sign both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry seemingly was questioned by very few fans and media members alike, as New England received next to nothing from its tight ends in each of the last two seasons. Landing Matt Judon largely was viewed as a home run and bringing back Kyle Van Noy after the linebacker’s one-season pit stop in Miami might prove to be an act of thievery.
But further down on the Patriots’ list of offseason signings in terms of sensibility was that of Nelson Agholor. Pro Football Focus believes the two-year contract the veteran wide receiver inked with New England is among the six most overrated deals of the offseason.
“Agholor is being paid under the assumption that he can replicate his 2020 production and then some,” PFF wrote for ESPN.com. “The Raiders used him in a far different manner than the Eagles, who drafted him in the first round in 2015. Agholor went from predominantly residing in the slot to the outside, where he saw deep crossers and vertical shots in Jon Gruden’s offense. He was a home run threat for Vegas who consistently ran hot and cold. Drops plagued the speedster (15% drop rate ranked sixth-to-last), and while he racked up 21 receptions of 15-plus yards, 13 of them came in four contests.
“Even assuming New England can extract the better end of that boom-or-bust play in 2021, Agholor is overpaid relative to his counterparts. He ranked just 45th among 99 qualifiers in receiving grade in 2020 despite it being easily his most productive NFL season. We’ve seen enough from him to know what kind of receiver he is; in the five years prior to 2020, he ranked 73rd among 74 qualifying wide receivers in receiving grade.”
Agholor is not a top-tier wide receiver and history suggests he’ll encounter his fair share of struggles in Foxboro. But the Patriots needed to address their receiving corps this offseason and the six-year pro was one of the better options on the open market.
Sure, New England might have overpaid, but Bill Belichick and Co. had plenty of money to spend and it doesn’t seem as though Agholor’s contract prevented any other moves.