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NFL free agency 2023: Quick-hit thoughts on the Patriots losing Nelson Agholor to the Ravens

Agholor signed a one-year deal in Baltimore.

New England Patriots v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The New England Patriots have lost yet another member of their free agents class. After already waiving goodbye to wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and running back Damien Harris, wideout Nelson Agholor has now also departed.

Agholor, who spent his last two seasons as a Patriot, has signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Here are a few thoughts on him leaving the organization.

Agholor’s disappointing tenure is officially over. Agholor joined the Patriots in 2021 on a two-year deal worth $22 million that also included $16 million in guarantees. His price tag was significant, because New England decided to buy high: the former first-round draft pick was coming off one of the best seasons of his career, catching 48 passes for 896 yards and eight touchdowns with the Las Vegas Raiders.

The Patriots were hoping for similar production but never got it. In two years in New England, Agholor did catch 69 passes in 31 regular season and playoff games but only gained a combined 853 yards while scoring five touchdowns.

Agholor never emerged as the player he was paid to be: a starter-level member of the New England offense capable of challenging teams deep. Some was due to his usage — the Patriots opted to play him more as an X-receiver in 2021 and used him as a rotational piece in 2022 — and some due to his inconsistent performance when on the field.

The 2022 season was a microcosm of his Patriots tenure.

Agholor caught 14 passes for 225 yards and a touchdown in the first four weeks of the season, showing some promise while helping replace an injured Jakobi Meyers. However, he also lost a pair of fumbles along the way and in Week 5 suffered an injury himself — paving the way to rookie Tyquan Thornton to overtake him on the depth chart. As a result, Agholor caught only 17 more passes for 137 yards and one TD over the final 12 weeks of the season.

The Patriots lose experience and depth. By the end of the 2022 season, it was clear that New England viewed Agholor as an emergency option more than an integral member of its offensive operation. Nonetheless, his presence gave the team some experienced depth capable of stepping up when called upon.

With Agholor now in Baltimore, this element of his job is gone as well. Ideally, Thornton would continue his growth and take over — and improve upon — the veteran’s role from a year ago. That still leaves the team one wideout short, though, unless it counts Tre Nixon and Lynn Bowden Jr. as viable options.

At the moment, the Patriots’ wide receiver group looks as follows: JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton are the top interior options and as of Friday relatively safe bets to make the team; DeVante Parker is the top X, and despite a contract making him an easy cut candidate in a relatively secure position as well.

A comparatively proven fifth option such as Agholor is missing from the mix at the moment, however.

The departure changes little in terms of need at the position... Even if they had re-signed Agholor, the Patriots would have been in the market for more help at the wide receiver position. For one, his contributions the last two years were not necessarily eye-popping. The team furthermore also has no real attention-grabber at the wide receiver spot, especially on the perimeter.

Adding such a WR1 to the mix would, ideally, help not just quarterback Mac Jones but the rest of New England’s pass-catching group as well. Unsurprisingly, the Patriots have been linked to several big name options available either through the trade market, in free agency, or the draft.

When it comes to the veteran talent supposedly available, however, nothing concrete has transpired so far.

...and in terms of the compensatory draft picks formula. As noted above, Agholor’s deal with the Ravens runs over one year at a value of $3.25 million. While that deal in itself does not stand out, it should qualify the 29-year-old for compensatory draft picks status: he will join the aforementioned Jakobi Meyers as one of two qualifying free agent losses the Patriots have suffered this offseason, per Over the Cap.

Nonetheless, extra draft capital coming New England’s way in 2024 should still not be expected. Not only are the Meyers and Agholor departures both canceled out by signings, the team actually is two players in the red from that perspective Unless three of the outstanding four free agents sign big-money deals elsewhere — something that very much will not happen — the Patriots will not get any compensatory picks next year.

Only four free agents are left standing. Speaking of the Patriots’ free agents. With Agholor off the market and headed to Baltimore, only four members of the team are left unaccounted for: offensive tackles Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon, cornerback Joejuan Williams, and punter Michael Palardy.

Wynn, a former first-round draft pick and starting left tackle for New England, is the highest-profile member of the group. However, neither he nor the other three should be expected back.