It wasn’t a complete facelift by any stretch of the imagination, but the New England Patriots revamped their wide receiving corps this offseason after Mac Jones had very little to work with as a rookie in 2021.
By trading for DeVante Parker, Jones now has a target who can dominate along the boundaries and haul in contested catches. At 6-foot-3 with elite leaping ability, Parker could also represent a legit red zone threat for the Patriots.
In addition to Parker, New England traded up to draft Baylor speedster Tyquan Thornton in the second round. Assuming Thornton picks up the playbook, he should step in as a reliable deep threat for the offense.
Of course, these roles were supposed to be filled by Nelson Agholor, whom the Patriots inked to a two-year, $22 million deal last offseason. However, the former Raiders star left a lot to be desired as the No. 1 perimeter receiver and there’s growing speculation that his roster spot could be in jeopardy before OTAs.
According to insider Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal, Agholor’s roster spot is “openly in question” as we sit here today.
Could the Patriots cut bait with Nelson Agholor this offseason?
When asked about his $14.8 million cap hit and living up to his contract during Tuesday’s media session, Agholor downplayed the noise.
"“I don’t focus on that. 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 Patriot system is when guys really get going and I feel comfortable, and I’m excited to have my best season with the Patriots and, you know, show why I’m here.”"
While Agholor is definitely going about his second year in New England with the correct mindset, his 2021 stats hardly instill any confidence. In 15 games, the former first-rounder compiled 37 catches (his lowest total since 2016) and 473 yards, which ranked fourth (!) on the team, to go with three touchdowns.
So what are the Patriots’ options? While they could save $4.88 million by cutting Agholor, he carries a $10 million dead cap charge regardless of whether he’s released before or after June 1. Given the team is already short on cap room, Bill Belichick likely wouldn’t be open to swallowing $10 million in dead money.
That makes a contract restructure a possibility. A trade could also be in the cards if Belichick bides his time and waits for a team to suffer an injury, as dealing Agholor (before or after June 1) would save the Pats $9.88 million against the cap and would account for just $5 million in dead money.
It’s truly anyone’s guess what happens with Agholor, but Bedard’s report indicates the receiver needs a strong camp and preseason — if he even lasts that long — to prove he’s deserving of a spot on the 53-man roster.
Brace yourselves, Patriots fans, because it seems like Belichick is poised to make another round of cutthroat decisions this offseason.