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Receiver Nelson Agholor believes the Patriots could be in for ‘something special’ in 2022

Nelson Agholor caught 37 passes for 473 yards and 3 touchdowns last season, his first with the Patriots.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

Nelson Agholor is feeling more comfortable in his surroundings and the Patriots receiver is hoping that makes defenders feel more uncomfortable.

Agholor is coming off a season in which he caught 37 passes for 473 yards and 3 touchdowns, not the statistical output envisioned when he signed a two-year deal worth $22 million.

The eight-year veteran, who is deep into the Patriots offseason program, is expecting a bump in numbers for 2022. One number he won’t dwell on is his salary cap hit, which is approximately $14.4 million.

“You’re allowed to ask that, but I don’t focus on that,” Agholor said Tuesday. “I’m here for a reason and I love the opportunity that’s given to me. To be a Patriot. To work hard. And the best part about it is [that] Year 2 in the Patriots system is when guys really get going. I feel comfortable, and I’m excited to have my best season with the Patriots and show them why I’m here.”

Nelson Agholor caught 37 passes for 473 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first season with the Patriots.Matthew J Lee/Globe staff

There were plenty of unknowns for Agholor when he first stepped foot in Foxborough coming off a 2020 season in Las Vegas where he caught 48 passes for a career-high 896 yards.


Agholor needed to get used to his new surroundings, his new coaches, and devour a new and complicated playbook. In addition, the Patriots were about to have their first full-fledged quarterback competition in years and Agholor’s role wouldn’t really be defined until that battle was complete.

Now, the unknowns are known. Now, he feels it’s all systems go.

“For me, it’s familiarity with the concepts, familiarity with how we do things, whether it’s scheduling, training, all those things, and being more in the routine,” Agholor said. “I think it helps that I’m more familiar with the environment, familiar with my coaching staff in terms of the people in this building, the strength staff, training staff.”


For the record, Agholor said any questions about the coaching staff — such as the identity of the offensive coordinator or receivers coach — should be directed toward Bill Belichick.

Agholor acknowledged what other veterans before him have said — that learning to be an effective receiver in the Patriots system is no easy task. You can’t pick it up overnight, but Agholor thinks a season might do the trick.

“I know the routes. Because the route tree is unique. I mean, everybody runs certain routes, but the route tree here is a little different than what I’ve run before, and now I know it, so now I get to put my own spin on how do things and play fast,” he said. “So, I’m just growing, practicing, putting stuff on tape and being comfortable with it — putting my own flavor on what I put on tape. Whereas a year ago, I was learning, so you do things at a certain learning tempo. You never get to just go full speed because you want to make sure you’re doing it right, so you kind of move with caution. Now I know what [the offense] looks like and I get to just put my flavor on it.

“That’s the cool part about Year 2. You’ve done it. You’ve had a year of tape of it. Now, you self-study and you just play fast.”

Nelson Agholor is looking for an even better 2022.Jim Davis/Globe Staff

Agholor believes the Patriots could be in for “something special” in 2022 and loves the camaraderie that is being built. He called playing for the Patriots “truly a brotherhood.”


He said the receivers room, which has added DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton, is a tight-knit group that enjoys working hard and “holding each other accountable.”

Agholor also has been duly impressed by Mac Jones, who continues to demonstrate leadership beyond his years with the way he is going about his business in the offseason program.

Agholor said his young quarterback does a great job of staying on the same page as everyone.

“I think Mac’s greatest strength is his ability to communicate,” he said. “Obviously he’s a great quarterback. I think he throws the ball amazing, but I love the way he communicates, and that’s something that allows you to grow together and work together, because communication is the key to every great relationship.”

Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @globejimmcbride.