Nelson Agholor is in a good place.
For now, that place is still Philadelphia.
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The Eagles' 2015 first-round pick, going into his fifth NFL season, is happy to be back with the Eagles, happy to be back in Philly. He's grown so much here in the past two seasons, some physically and a ton mentally.
He still has a hunger to get better, but after going through some tribulations early in his career, Agholor has reached a Zen-like level of calm and comfort in the NFL, in this city.
None of that was going to be derailed by rumors this offseason.
I didn't really worry about it. At the end of the day, I love this place. We have unfinished business.
When asked if he pays attention to the reports and rumors about him, Agholor said he doesn't - "I know what kind of player I am," he said.
This offseason, reports surfaced about the possibility of a trade that would send Agholor out of town. Despite his production in recent seasons, there were reasons - nearly $9.4 million worth of them - why those reports made some sense. Agholor has been a good player the last couple years, but that's a hefty price tag, especially for a team that added DeSean Jackson and already had Alshon Jeffery in the position group.
Did Agholor think about why his name was being mentioned?
After Tuesday's practice, he spoke with the type of confidence he desperately lacked during his early-career struggles:
You gotta think about it, though? What am I worried about? Am I worried that I'm going to have a job in this league? If not, not at all. I want to be an Eagle and I'm here. At the end of the day, that's for them to control and for me to say, ‘hey, I'm ready to play football for the Eagles.' I'm ready to play football in general.
It's amazing, isn't it? The guy who once needed to be benched to take a mental break now has the full confidence of a seasoned pro. He deserves to be in this position. He worked tremendously hard to get here and had to prove to himself and the team that he was capable. That meant breaking through the "bust" label that was adhered to him far too early. This guy went from being a complete liability to catching nine passes in the Super Bowl and having back-to-back seasons with 60-plus catches and 700-plus yards.
The most impressive thing was that he did it his way. I'll never forget seeing the drops tally chart in his locker and thinking it was a bad idea; but, as Jordan Matthews once explained it to me, being a technician got Agholor to the league. If it worked to get him in the league, it was going to work getting him out of that funk. He was right.
This will be Agholor's fifth NFL season and, amazingly, he will have his fifth receivers coach in Carson Walch after the Eagles moved on from Gunter Brewer. Even Mike Groh, the Eagles' OC, who was Agholor's third receivers coach before a promotion, admitted it "could be a challenge" for players when their position coaches are switched so frequently. But Agholor seems comfortable with Walch, whom he said invested in him last season. Through it all, Agholor has still managed to become a pretty good pro.
Here are his numbers from the past two seasons:
2017: 62 catches, 768 yards, 8 touchdowns
2018: 64 catches, 736 yards, 4 touchdowns
That's solid production. It's not elite.
But there's plenty of reason to think Agholor has just scratched the surface of his potential in the NFL. In an offense with so many weapons, Agholor realizes the opportunity he might have in the middle of the field as Jackson stretches the field. Agholor plans to make the most of it.
Since he is entering 2019 on his fifth-year option, that means this is a contract season for the 26-year-old. Barring an extension, his first chance to test free agency will come after this season.
"I'm going to bust my butt, man," Agholor said about the contract year. "Work hard, grind. At the end of the day, what's meant for you will be for you."
What's meant for you will be for you.
Yeah, Agholor seems to be in a good place right now.
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