Why did Patriots spend on Nelson Agholor over Curtis Samuel?

Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)
Panthers WR Curtis Samuel (Photo by Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots clearly aren’t a fan of losing, as they’ve absolutely dominated the competition in free agency, spending nearly $300 million over the first couple days.

Though the bombardment of signings is likely to simmer down moving forward, fans can expect more moves to be made in the coming days and weeks.

In the meantime, however, now seems like a perfect time to start critiquing some of general manager Bill Belichick’s most expensive splurges.

For the sake of time, let’s keep this conversation focused on the wide receiver position, which the Patriots have put an emphasis on upgrading with the signings of Kendrick Bourne (three years, $22.5 million) and Nelson Agholor (two years, $26 million).

Given the state of the WR corps over the last two seasons, fans would be hard-pressed to be up in arms with these additions.

However, we can’t help but scratch our heads that they splashed on Agholor over Curtis Samuel, who signed with Washington on Wednesday night.

Why did the Patriots pass on Curtis Samuel?

It’s worth noting that Samuel inked a three-year, $34.5 million deal with Washington, and the Patriots have been diligent in their approach to handing out two-year contracts so they can go on another spending spree when the NFL’s television deals come into play.

However, if going the extra year meant that Samuel would’ve ended up in Foxborough, then the front office absolutely should’ve breached their comfort zone. This is nothing against Agholor, who enjoyed a career year with the Raiders last season and will (hopefully) build upon that with the Patriots.

We just think Samuel would offer more versatility to the offense. The former second-round pick’s ability as a WR is evident. Where he becomes extremely valuable in comparison to his colleagues, however, is his pre-snap movement and ability to line up anywhere on the line of scrimmage, including the backfield.

After a disappointing first couple of seasons in the league, the Panthers revamped their offensive coaching staff and it didn’t take very long for them to recognize Samuel’s unique skillet. As a result, he logged a career-high in touches (118), scrimmage yards (1,051) and touchdowns (five) in 2020.

And for those fans saying that the Patriots wanted more of a possession-based receiver to pair with Cam Newton, who really struggles throwing the deep ball, Agholor averaged more yards per catch (18.9) than Samuel (11.1) last season.

It would be wrong to be overly critical of the Patriots and Belichick before we see how Agholor is utilized in their new-look offense. However, considering that Samuel will be making less per year ($11.5M) compared to Agholor ($13M), we wouldn’t fault fans who grimaced when they got the notification that Samuel was headed to Washington.

If we had to answer our own question, we’d say the extra year — assuming the Patriots were interested in Samuel, of course — was the difference maker here.