Nelson Agholor on sizable salary: I’m excited to ‘show why I’m here’

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The numbers don’t make sense when weighing Nelson Agholor’s production against his salary. The New England Patriots receiver finished with 37 catches for 473 yards and three touchdowns in 2021 after signing a two-year deal worth up to $24 million. He’s set to have a cap hit of $14.8 million with almost $10 million in new money in 2022.

So if he’s going to make that contract worthwhile for the Patriots, he’s going to have to provide a significant uptick in production — unless, of course, New England renegotiates his contract (or trades him). Agholor faced a question about that contract and whether something might get done to make the money better match his production.

“I don’t focus on that,” Agholor said with a smile. “You know, I’m here for a reason. And I love the opportunity that’s given to me to be a Patriot, to work hard. And the best part about it is in year two in the Patriots’ system is when guys really get going. And I feel comfortable, and I’m excited to have my best season with the Patriots and show why I’m here.”

That was Agholor’s resounding message throughout his meeting with the media through videoconference on Tuesday: he and the Patriots are more optimistic than last season about what they can accomplish. Quarterback Mac Jones is entering his second season in the NFL. Receivers Kendrick Bourne and Agholor and tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry are entering their second seasons in the Patriots system. They have a better understanding of the playbook and of each other.

The offseason is a time for optimism, but the Patriots’ optimism is founded in some reality. New England threw for the 14th most passing yards (4,098), the 15th most passing touchdowns (24) and the fifth-most yards per attempt (7.7). That’s a decent foundation around which the team can build, and they added receivers DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton and running back Pierre Strong. Agholor, however, has a lot of ground to make up if he’s going to take on a bigger role after his lackluster 2021.

“Well, it’s behind us, but I would say that it went the way it was supposed to for me to grow,” Agholor said. “I can’t really look at it any other way. I needed to grow, I needed to adapt, I needed to be able to do what I wanted to do, and I think everything happens for a reason. I’m not gonna 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 what I’m supposed to be and play the way I want to play, so I’m all right with that.”

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