It’s almost time for the Las Vegas Raiders’ to decide whether to keep their pending free agents. It won’t be easy and they will have some tough choices to make. Last offseason, they signed former Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor on a one-year deal. Famous for his drops in Philadelphia, this was a case of a player looking for a new life with the Raiders. The USC product was running out of opportunities to prove deserving of his first-round selection. Did he do enough for an extension or should he find a new home?
Nelson Agholor became Derek Carr’s favorite target
Heading into the 2020 season, it looked as though Henry Ruggs III would be the Raiders’ X receiver. Yet, as the season progressed we saw a somewhat unexpected face making game-breaking plays for the Las Vegas Raiders. Reeling in eight receiving touchdowns, Agholor was a major spark for the Raiders, catching 11 passes for 20 or more yards.
Agholor became the go-to guy for quarterback Derek Carr when the game mattered the most. Their chemistry was undeniable, and Agholor has cemented his place as a reliable target. If the Raider’s do indeed let ’15’ walk, they will most certainly be looking for someone, currently inside or outside the building, to become Carr’s number one target.
On the other hand, the Raiders’ offense sputtered and left many points on the field, especially in the last six games. The passing game struggled for a multitude of reasons and Nelson is not exempt from blame. As good as he was, he’s not unguardable. It’s unlikely he will get a contract similar to other big-name free agent wide receivers like Allen Robinson or Kenny Golladay, who have proven consistent production through any situation.
Nelson Agholor Provides under-the-radar leadership
Vic Tafur of the Athletic broke a story in which Agholor stepped up in a big way off the field. Players and other writers have claimed many versions of this story. Nevertheless, the wide receiver reportedly ripped into the Raiders’ locker room following the gut-wrenching 26-25 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
Despite the disputed accounts of this story, the Raiders’ have been in dire need of this type of leadership. It is quite refreshing to see a player look to hold others accountable following an embarrassing loss. The Raiders’ will miss Agholor’s presence on and off the field if they decide to show him the door.
Should the Raiders buy or sell?
Agholor and Carr had a good rapport. In fact, the Raiders will be put in a tough spot when deciding whether to bring back the wideout. The biggest roadblock towards a new contract will be money. After signing a one year $1.04 million deal for the 2020 season, it is likely Agholor will want to cash in after a career year.
Players must maximize their earning window. However, it would be puzzling to give Agholor a contract worth more than $8 million per year. Considering the 2021 mantra for Raiders’ fans is “Fix the Defense”, paying the 27-year-old receiver may be a difficult sell for this cap-strapped team.
Realistically, an ideal extension for the Raiders’ would be a two year $12.5 million deal. This contract would certainly be team-friendly, and therefore may incline Agholor to dip his toes into free agency and see if he can fetch something closer to the $8 million per year mark.
It will be up to general manager Mike Mayock and head coach Jon Gruden to decide on whether to buy or sell on Agholor, but I ultimately believe they will BUY, if the price is right. If Agholor demands too pretty of a penny, the Raiders may look to other free agents and the draft for a cheaper piece to their puzzle.
Top Photo: Wade Vandervort/Las Vegas Sun
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