Nelson Agholor and Golden Tate have had their fair share of ups and downs in their respective time with the Eagles. With Tate set to hit the free agent market and a team option looming over Agholor, the Eagles have a decision to make in terms of who they prefer to retain for years to come.

Agholor was selected 20th overall in the 2015 NFL Draft by the Eagles, and Tate was acquired mid-season by the Eagles in 2018 after the team dealt a third-round pick for the wide receiver. Looking at the Eagles’ cap space, it remains clear that the team will have to pick between the two, as it will be difficult to retain both without creating holes in other positions.

Here is the case for both players…

The case for the Eagles to retain Nelson Agholor

The Eagles picked up Agholor’s 5th-year player option last season for $9 million, however they are able to change their mind and decline the option by March 13, which would free up that money.

After Agholor was drafted, he had a rough start to his career in Philadelphia to say the very least. Agholor combined for just 59 catches, 648 yards and three touchdowns in his first two seasons with the Eagles, and his inability to consistently catch passes made him one of the most frustrating draft picks to date. Agholor was close to being cut by the team, but in 2017, his career was resurrected.

Agholor caught 62 passes for 768 yards and eight touchdowns in 2017, and his drop issues almost vanished in whole. Agholor became one of the most trusted options through the air in the Eagles offense, and his emergence was key in the team getting to, and winning its first ever Super Bowl.

In 2018, Agholor statistically didn’t have a down year, but his consistency in production took a dip in large part due to questionable usage within the offense. Agholor finished with 64 catches for 736 yards and four touchdowns, but he had less than five receptions in 10 of the teams 18 games, including five with one catch or less. In comparison, Agholor had just two games last season with one or less catch.

However, down the stretch, Agholor’s emergence as a down the field target brought his usage back to prominence, and helped revive an Eagles offense that struggled to get big plays through the passing game.

All in all, Agholor’s time has been a rollercoaster; he either has been great within the offense, or he completely disappears. Despite that, his speed and his ability to get downfield makes him a threat game in and game out for opposing defenses, and would be a valuable target for a healthy Carson Wentz next season.

The case for the Eagles to retain Golden Tate

When the Eagles dealt a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions for Tate, it was a clear win-now move. The Eagles were just 4-4 at the time and their offensive had taken a clear dip after they led the league in scoring in 2017, and Tate was acquired to give a spark.

However, Tate seemed to never get integrated into the offense.

In his eight regular season games with the Eagles, Tate averaged just 3.75 catches for 34.75 yards per game, and caught just one touchdown. In comparison, Tate caught 6.29 catches for 73.86 yards per game, and had three touchdowns before the trade with the Lions.

Tate became the hero in the Eagles’ Wild Card game against the Chicago Bears after he caught the game-winning touchdown. Tate also had five receptions for 46 yards and it appeared that maybe the Eagles had finally figured out an effective way to use Tate. Any thoughts of that, though, were quickly silenced.

In the game that ended the Eagles season, Tate caught just two passes for 18 yards against the Saints, and wasn’t on the field for numerous key third down plays.

All in all, it’s fair to look at the deal to acquire Tate as a failure, and losing him to free agency would solidify that thought. However, getting validation on a trade is no reason to sign a player over another.

To Tate’s defense, it is unfair to expect a player to be a force in an offense where he is quickly rushed into and doesn’t have time to learn the playbook, and have sufficient practice time with his teammates. Tate’s veteran nature and his ability to be there when he’s need offensively, despite his failures this season, also would provide an aid for Wentz at quarterback.

Tate has portrayed his desire to remain in Philadelphia and has even said he’d be willing to take less than what his current contract is giving him. Tate was paid $6 million this past season.

The Verdict

Both Agholor and Tate have their great qualities, but they also have their downsides that make it difficult. However, Agholor is a better fit in the offense and provides a skillset that is needed more, which means the Eagles should prefer Agholor over Tate.

Agholor is five years younger than Tate, and though he would likely be slightly more expensive than Tate next season, Agholor isn’t expected to command $9 million annually in a contract extension.

Tate is a good security blanket to have and is great at making defenders miss, but Zach Ertz already serves as the fall back option, and Agholor has his own elusive skills.

The trade for Tate didn’t work out the way many expected it to, but validation is no reason to favor Tate over Agholor, considering Agholor is the better fit.

With an offseason ahead for Wentz, along with other key offensive players such as Alshon Jeffery, the offense will be able to get into full swing again like it once was in 2017, with Agholor being a key part in that.

Keep an eye out for any news on the Agholor vs Tate front, but expect Agholor to be the one who prevails in the end.

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