May 24, 2018
For Philadelphia Eagles wideout Nelson Agholor, 2016 seems so long ago. That year, despite the arrival of Carson Wentz, he sank to the status of a healthy scratch by late November as dropped passes and mental mistakes continued to be a problem. It, just like the year prior, was a season to forget.
Or maybe not.
Through his first 28 NFL games, all but two of which he started, Agholor managed just 59 total receptions, 648 yards and three touchdowns. However, without the struggles of those first two NFL seasons, the former first-round pick's turnaround 2017 campaign wouldn't have looked nearly as impressive. And without the memory of that adversity – and the support he received from those both inside and outside the organization – to drive him, it might not have happened at all.
On Tuesday, standing in front of his locker answering questions for the first time this spring, Agholor was so popular that Shelton Gibson, whose locker is next to Agholor's locker, revealed an unlikely source of some of that positive reinforcement during 2016: former Ravens and Steelers wideout Mike Wallace.
Wallace, the nine-year veteran who signed a one-year deal with the Eagles this offseason, now occupies the locker on the other side of Gibson. And Agholor, who has never played with Wallace before, couldn't be happier.
"I've known Mike for a while. I've known Mike since before he joined this team, and that's my brother now," Agholor said. "It's another year where we bring in another receiver that I've had a prior relationship with and I'm really close with. You know, Torrey Smith is a great player and is a friend of mine, and now we bring in another guy, like Mike, where we don't feel like we're going to have any drop-off, because we're going to have a lot of fun."
It was well documented that the addition of Torrey Smith, coupled with the subtraction of Jordan Matthews, opened up the slot receiver position for Agholor, who thrived in that role in 2017. Now, with Smith gone, Wallace seems like a natural fit to replace him.
But it's more than that. After all, what's the connection between the two? Why were they such good friends prior to his arrival in Philly? It all goes back to that 2016 season, according to Agholor. Specifically, the Eagles' Week 15 game in Baltimore.
"Just being receivers in this league, we met; and, actually, two years ago when we went down to Baltimore, and I was struggling that season, [Wallace] let me know that he was in my corner and he was rooting for me," Agholor said. "[He told me,] 'Don't let anybody put you down; don't let anybody see you hang your head; always hold your head up and play hard.' He always had great words for me, every time we met and saw each other.
"I'm so happy he's here now."
In the Eagles next game, a 24-19 win over the Giants on Thursday Night Football, Agholor scored his first touchdown – and racked up the most yards he had in a game (47) – since Week 1 of the season.
The rest, as they say, is history.
Aside from helping the Eagles win their first Super Bowl ever with a career-high nine receptions and 84 yards* against the Patriots back in February, Agholor, who turns 25 on Thursday, surpassed his regular season totals from the previous two seasons combined – and nearly tripled his touchdown totals las year.
Following the season, Eagles opted to exercise their fifth-year option on Agholor this offseason, meaning he's under contract through 2019.
"It's a blessing," he said, adding that he's willing to do whatever the team needs, even if that means lining up on the outside more often. "It gives me two more years to do something special with this group of guys and then go from there."
It will be interesting to see how Agholor responds coming off the first big season of his career, not to mention a Super Bowl victory. For now, however, it seems as though his head's in the right place – and that's key, not just for a player with Agholor's history, but any player coming off a championship season.
After being asked about the shortened offseason, he was asked if he felt any vindication while watching the tape of his Super Bowl performance, especially in the fourth quarter when he made several big grabs.
"I haven't really watched the Super Bowl on tape," Agholor said. "It's alright. I don't need to. Now it's time to prepare for other things."
Like returning the favor to Mike Wallace and helping him get his first Super Bowl ring?
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