The Patriots will return all of their weaponry from 2021 and the group has already been getting a jump this offseason, with videos from workouts popping up as they continue to build chemistry outside of Foxborough. A year ago they were but a collection of new veteran free agents and a rookie quarterback, with lone holdout Jakobi Meyers as the only piece who had experience with the Patriots. Now, with a year under their belt, the group is back and looking to improve on a season that saw the offense finish ninth overall in DVOA.
Nelson Agholor could be one of the central pieces if the offense is to take the next step. A season after playing 642 snaps as an outside receiver and just 62 on the inside, the Patriots' acquisitions of DeVante Parker as well as rookie Tyquan Thornton could open up more options for Agholor, who recorded 37 catches for 473 yards and three touchdowns in his first season with New England. Spending the vast majority of the season lined up out wide was a departure for Agholor, who was more balanced in his one season with the Raiders, a breakout year that saw him tie his career-best with eight touchdowns while averaging 18.7 yards-per-catch, and was even more of a straight slot receiver during his first five years in the league with the Eagles.
In fact, his three most productive seasons in Philly came when he was playing primarily as a slot receiver. From 2017 to 2019 he played 68 percent of his snaps inside and produced 165 catches for 1,867 yards and 15 touchdowns. With two new potential field stretchers to play on the outside, Agholor could now have some flexibility to deliver a bigger and more diverse contribution in 2022.
"I think we have a wonderful opportunity because of the guys that we played with a year ago, we know each other, we know who the quarterback is," said Agholor, speaking to the media on Tuesday afternoon. "I think we have a good opportunity to just take our communication level to another level."
Agholor welcomed the addition of Parker, who entered in the same NFL draft class, and Thornton, who Agholor already conceded was probably faster than him.
"Their ability will only allow me to get better by allowing me to compete with their ability. I think they're quality players that will help my game rise to a certain standard," said Agholor, adding that he's glad he has the versatility to play in the slot, something that increases his value to the team. "Being versatile and being able to play inside-outside gives you a lot of value and that's what every receiver wants to do and that's something I want to do."
The veteran receiver seemed to be enjoying his first full offseason with the Patriots. Aside from embracing the continuity with his teammates, being through a season means he knows what to expect and can ultimately just relax and play fast on Sundays.
"The best part about it is in Year Two in the Patriots system is when guys really get going and I feel comfortable and I'm excited to have my best season with the Patriots," said Agholor. "Now that I've gone through it it's like I see the picture clearer of what we're trying to do, how we work, what it takes in terms of communication, what it takes in terms of effort, focus, continuous positive energy every day to get better. Because there are going to be days that don't go your way but you have to have a positive energy and a certain level of focus so that you can grow each day.
"That's the blessing about it. I know what we do... we get after it, we grind, that's it. It's as easy as that."