Eagles Potential Cap Casualty Evaluation: Nelson Agholor

Embed from Getty Images

By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

Leading up to the start of free agency, Sports Talk Philly and Eagledelphia will be taking a look at the players on the Eagles roster who could become cap casualties this offseason and how the team should look to handle each.

In this edition, we will be covering wide receiver Nelson Agholor.


Career

Nelson Agholor became a first-round pick of the Eagles in 2015 joining an abysmal receiving corps that consisted of Jordan Matthews and players that should have been depth pieces at best. While Agholor made headlines for his tireless work ethic that he took, in part, from the aforementioned Matthews, he really failed to make an impact for the offense.

Agholor was essentially a bust to many fans, but halfway through his second season, nearly everyone was willing to pull the plug on the wideout. Doug Pederson, in his first season as a coach, demonstrated why he was chosen to be the head coach and made a franchise altering decision. He spoke with Nelson, told him to focus on getting right mentally and benched him for a game.

Agholor returned for the final few games and seemed improved, but it was in 2017 when Agholor proved he was not a bust, racking up over 750 yards in a spread offense and helping the Eagles to win their first ever Super Bowl Championship.

Agholor did not have the type of quarterback play that he had in 2017 this past season and suffered as the only receiver on the team for the first three games of the season. Still, he managed to reach nearly the same amount of yardage as he did in 2017 despite splitting time with Tate and Matthews.


2019 Positional Group

The only known receiver set to return to the Eagles other than Agholor is Alshon Jeffery. Beyond that, the team has Mack Hollins, Shelton Gibson, Marken Michel, Johnny Holton, Braxton Miller, Dorren Miller and Carlton Agudosi. The Eagles will need more than that to be competitive.

Mack Hollins has a shot at making the roster, but is nowhere near a lock after missing the entire 2018 season with a mysterious injury. Shelton Gibson spent the entirety of 2018 on the active roster and managed only one reception. He is likely gone unless he shows significant improvement.

Beyond that, the rest of the group are not likely to make the roster, but Braxton Miller and Marken Michel have experience in the NFL and CFL respectively. That previous performance with a strong camp could win either of the pair a spot on the active roster.


Contract

The Eagles have Agholor on his fifth-year option right now, which puts a $9.3 million cap hit on the books for the franchise. They could trade Agholor or not pick up his option and the team would save all of that cap space.

It should be noted again that a trade cannot be completed until the start of the league year. That means that, while the Eagles would not bear Agholor’s cap hit if they were to trade him, they would not be able to get that space until after the league year begin. If the Birds franchise tag Nick Foles, trading Agholor would not help to create any cap space to accommodate Foles’ salary until his trade is done.

Agholor’s contract would make him the 22nd highest paid receiver in the league. That’s essentially true top receiver money. Players that make near that amount are Adam Thielen, Kenny Stills, Marvin Jones and Michael Crabtree. Three of those players have 1000-yard seasons on their resume and all four have a track record of proven play. Agholor managed just over 500 yards in his first two seasons combined and managed 750 yards over his last two season.

While his stats are not all to impressive, Agholor would absolutely have value on the free agent and trade markets even with his cap hits. Antonio Brown is available in a trade, but comes at a high price (trade and cap wise) and with off-field issues. Meanwhile, the top receiver on the free agent market is Golden Tate who, at this point in his career, is a solid number two receiver. Aside from Brown, Agholor could be the top wideout available outside the draft.


Summary

While there is essentially no way the Eagles keep him on his current contract, the thought here has always been that the team wanted his fifth-year option available to work on an extension. That would be in the best interest of the team as it would lock Agholor up for a few more seasons while lowering that massive cap hit and allowing them to continue to unlock his potential.

If no agreement can be reached on an extension, the Eagles would not greatly benefit from allowing Agholor to walk. They have more than four qualify free agents sent to reach free agency, so allowing Agholor to sign as a free agent might make one of their comp picks a bit higher, they will not receive an extra pick – they’d still be at 10. This combined with a weak free agent class of receivers means that the Eagles could find a greater return from a receiver needy team.


Decision: Extend