November 15, 2016
Nelson Agholor isn't a good NFL receiver. You know it. I know it. The Eagles' coaching staff (probably) knows it. People who don't ever watch football and casually take in a game on occasion know it.
On the season, Agholor has 27 catches on 48 targets (56.3 percent completion rate on balls going his way) for 264 yards (a paltry 9.8 yards per catch), and one touchdown (which was more than two months ago). Agholor's 29.3 yards per game rank 136th in the NFL.
While that sounds spectacularly unproductive, it's worse if you consider that Agholor has been on the field for 327 of the Eagles' 353 pass attempts this season, or 92.6 percent. He has also had untimely drops, like the one in the red zone against Dallas that may have cost the Eagles four points, and a bad drop on 3rd and 1 with the Eagles holding a narrow six-point lead with about four minutes to go against Atlanta last Sunday.
The above has been a follow up to Agholor's disappointing rookie season in which he caught 23 passes for 283 yards and one touchdown. It's pretty safe at this point to consider Agholor a bust. #Analysis.
Now that we've sufficiently beaten the dead horse, let's look ahead. What are the Eagles' options with Agholor going forward? Many have suggested that the Eagles just cut Agholor (or catapult him to Delaware) immediately and elevate, say, practice squad hero Paul Turner to the 53-man roster. Less aggressive frustrated fans realize Agholor is going to be on the roster the rest of the season, but assume he will not be back in 2017.
If you're among that crowd, my apologies for breaking the bad news to you -- Nelson Agholor is probably going to be on the team again in 2017.
It's simply a matter of financials. Next season, Agholor will count for $2,557,465 against the Eagles' salary cap. If they cut him next offseason, he will cost nearly double that, at $4,941,368, according to overthecap.com. If they trade him, he will count for $2,539,954. Unfortunately, you'd have to find a trade partner willing to part with something for a guy with bad hands who, again, is 136th in the NFL in yards per game despite being on the field for 92.6 percent of his team's pass plays. Yes, I'm aware that Howie Roseman recently just got first- and fourth-round picks for Sam Bradford, but this would be a whole new level of trade wizardry.
The above is why 2014 first-round bust Marcus Smith has been able to stick with the team this long despite next to no production.
And then there's the "bust-for-bust" option, where teams will occasionally trade their first-round bust for some other team's first-round bust, in the hopes that maybe the busts will play better with a fresh start in a new city. For example, in 2013, the San Francisco 49ers traded first-round wide receiver bust A.J. Jenkins for Kansas City Chiefs first-round wide receiver bust Jonathan Baldwin. Those deals are rare, and they typically don't work out for either team. In the case of Jenkins and Baldwin, for example, both players are already out of the league.
Reviewing the 2015 NFL Draft class, Agholor looks to me like the least valuable first round pick by a mile, which will make any such trade difficult to pull off.
The earliest the Eagles can release Agholor, barring some kind of off-the-field incident, will be during the 2018 offseason. That's just the unfortunate reality of missing on players in the first round of the draft. However, the Eagles can minimize their losses by maybe not playing a wholly unproductive receiver on 92.6 percent of their pass plays, but I'm just spitballing here.
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