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Nelson Agholor not focused on cap hit, optimistic for second season in New England

BOSTON -- In terms of impact on the salary cap, only two Patriots players have a bigger cap hit in 2022 than Nelson Agholor. The question on many fans' minds, then, will be whether or not the veteran receiver can justify that $14.882 million cap hit. Considering his first season was more than a little underwhelming, there's reason for skepticism.

But Agholor -- when speaking to the media over Zoom on Tuesday from Foxboro -- said that his salary number isn't at the forefront of his mind as he works toward what he believes will be a stronger 2022 season.

"You're allowed to ask that," Agholor assured the reporter who asked the question in as polite a manner as possible. "I don't focus on that. You know, 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 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 and show why I'm here."

Agholor ranked fifth on the team in receptions (37), fourth in receiving yards (473) and third in touchdown receptions (3) last season, a stark drop-off from his 48-catch, 896-yard, 8-touchdown season in 2020 with the Raiders. The soon-to-be-29-year-old said that his ability to play fast in a system where he's comfortable should lead to better results.

"For me, it's familiarity first with the concepts, familiarity with how we do things -- whether it's scheduling, training, all those things -- and being more in the routine. I think it helps that I'm familiar with the environment, familiar with my coaching staff in terms of people in this building, strength staff, training staff. And I know the routes. The route tree is unique, it's not -- I mean, everybody runs certain routes, but the route tree is a little different than what I've ran before. And now I know it, so I get to put my own spin on how we do things and play fast," Agholor said. "So I'm just growing, practicing, putting stuff on tape and being comfortable with it, you know, putting my own flavor on what I put on tape. Whereas a year ago, I was learning so you do things a certain like 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 it looks like and I get to just put my flavor on it. So that's the cool part about year two, is you've done it, you've had a year of tape of it, now you self study and you go get to play fast."

Agholor added: "I think I'm at my best when I just have fun, play fast. A lot of people have different ways of carrying motivation, they carry a chip on their shoulder and things like that. I'm a competitor naturally. I love to compete. I love to play the game. But when I have fun with the game and I have fun with the guys and I play hard and practice hard, I do really well. So I'm just, I'm in a really happy place and super excited about the work that's coming from being at a happy place and the growth that's coming from it. So my motivation is to make it a memorable season with this team and the guys that I play alongside with and let it be something special."

Agholor didn't dwell on last season but did say that the growing pains in the new system might have been necessary.

"Well, it's behind us, but I would say that it went the way it was supposed to for me to grow," Agholor said. "I can't really look at it any other way. I needed to grow, I needed to adapt, I needed to be able to do what I wanted to do, and I think everything happens for a reason. I'm not gonna get upset about this or that because it's in the past. What I do have in front of me is a really wonderful opportunity this year to be what I'm supposed to be and play the way I want to play, so I'm all right with that."

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