Regrets? Nelson Agholor no doubt has a few regarding his five roller-coaster seasons with the Eagles. But Monday wasn’t the time to dwell on them.
The wide receiver, who will be a free agent in March and probably has played his last game in midnight green, preferred to reflect on the positives of the last five years as he and his teammates cleaned out their lockers at the NovaCare Complex the morning after their 17-9 playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks.
“It’s been an amazing time,’’ said Agholor, who will turn 27 in May. “Amazing growth. Definitely growth. An opportunity to go through hard times and reach the highest point of happiness, too. At the end of the day, I got to experience the ultimate high.
“The lows allowed me to grow as a man and put me at peace with understanding things you can’t control. And also look yourself in the mirror and find ways to get better. It’s been a beautiful thing and it’s helped me form who I am as a man. And I’m happy for that.’’
The “ultimate high’’ Agholor is referring to, of course, is the Super Bowl title the Eagles won two years ago. He was an integral part of that. After struggling his first two seasons in the league and being branded by many as a first-round bust, the light finally went on for him in 2017.
He caught 62 passes for a career-high 768 yards and eight touchdowns as the Eagles finished 13-3 and won the NFC East. He led the team with 21 third-down receptions.
Then he caught 15 more passes in the Eagles’ three playoff wins, including nine for 84 yards and five first downs in their 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
He caught a career-high 64 passes in 2018, but most of his other key numbers dipped. Despite that, the Eagles, who had picked up the fifth-year option on his contract the previous spring, decided not to trade him and brought him back at his $9.4 million option-year cost.
Agholor caught eight passes for 107 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ Week 2 loss to Atlanta and had eight more catches a week later in a loss to Detroit.
But he injured his right knee in the Eagles’ Week 6 loss to Minnesota, then aggravated the injury a month later in a loss to New England. He played in just one more game after that.
The Eagles chose not to put him on injured reserve. Every week, they would list him as questionable on their injury report. When coach Doug Pederson would be asked whether Agholor was going to play that week, he would frequently use words like “push through,’’ suggesting that it was a matter of Agholor being unwilling to play with pain, or not wanting to risk further injury with him about to become a free agent.
“You don’t put someone on IR when they’re trying to follow protocol that could bring them back,’’ said Agholor, who finished the season with 39 receptions for 363 yards and three touchdowns.
Agholor’s knee has been swollen for weeks, ever since he banged the right kneecap on the end-zone turf at the Linc in the New England game.
He said doctors have told him he suffered a degloving injury to his knee, which is a type of avulsion in which an extensive section of skin is completely torn off the underlying tissue, severing its blood supply.
“It’s something that happens to people who get into car accidents,’’ Agholor said. “It’s a shearing of the tissue that causes continuous inflammation.’’
Agholor said that if he had continued playing with the injury, he likely would have done more damage to the knee.
“That was always the ultimate fear,’’ he said. “I mentioned early on after I first hurt it about making it worse. That’s what put me in this position to try to fix it so that I don’t continually make it worse.’’
Agholor missed the Eagles’ last four regular-season games and didn’t play Sunday against the Seahawks. He said he’s had five “treatments’’ on the knee, but if doesn’t get better in two more weeks, he’s going to need surgery.
“It’s not something crazy,’’ he said when asked whether it would be major surgery. “It should be quick.’’
Agholor said he hasn’t given a lot of thought to his pending free agency, trying to stay focused instead on his health.
“That’s not something I’m worried about,’’ he said. “The most important thing is getting healthy. That’s No. 1. That’s been the focal point. Just making sure I feel good. Feel like myself.’’
Even if he makes a full recovery, there seems very little chance that the Eagles would be interested in re-signing him. They appear to have found a potential slot replacement for Agholor in much cheaper former practice-squadder Greg Ward.
The Eagles need to rebuild the wide receiver position in the offseason, though that’s going to be difficult given the cumbersome contracts of their other two injured wideouts, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson.
Jeffery is recovering from a Lisfranc fracture and has a fractured relationship with quarterback Carson Wentz.
In a move that could get his 2017 NFL Executive of the Year award rescinded, Eagles GM Howie Roseman made the mistake last year of guaranteeing Jeffery’s entire $14 million salary for 2020.