Twenty-five years ago, Randall Cunningham retired after a dismal final season with the Eagles.
Two years later he came out of retirement, signed with the Vikings and a year later had one of the greatest quarterback seasons ever, earned MVP honors and would have taken the Vikings to the Super Bowl if not for some terrible coaching by Dennis Green.
Cunningham’s offensive coordinator his last year in Philly? Jon Gruden.
Gruden today is head coach of the Raiders, and one of his pet projects is Nelson Agholor.
“A change of scenery worked for Randall Cunningham, maybe it will work for him,” Gruden told the Athletic.
Interestingly, Cunningham, who settled in Las Vegas after playing college football at UNLV, is now the Raiders’ team chaplain.
As for Agholor, he’s trying to rebuild a career that despite some great moments in 2017 and a brilliant Super Bowl never lived up to expectations.
"I trust him and I think he was picked high in the draft for a reason,” Gruden said of Agholor. "He’s a good player. You can pick up the Philadelphia Inquirer and they will probably say something different, but this guy has caught over 200 passes, he’s a young guy, he has played split end, flanker and in the slot. He caught eight or nine passes in a Super Bowl (9-for-84) and won a Super Bowl. So he's a world champion. He's a great person.”
Agholor caught 224 passes for 2,515 yards and 18 touchdowns in five seasons with the Eagles, who made him the 20th pick in Chip Kelly’s 2015 draft.
He never caught more than 768 yards in a season and he surpassed 64 yards in only nine of his 76 games here.
Agholor said he and Gruden actually have a family connection that goes back to when he was in high school at Berkeley Prep in Tampa and Gruden had just finished coaching the Buccaneers.
“He actually used to hang around after his days coaching in Tampa, he still lived in Tampa, and he would always go to a racetrack near his home, and my brother worked at that racetrack so him and my brother spent a lot of time talking every morning when Jon was getting his coffee about football and about my college career and things like that,” Agholor said in a Zoom call with Raiders writers.
“So it’s a blessing to be in this opportunity having a previous relationship. But at the end of the day I chose this relationship because he knows the game and all I want to do is learn and be a better player.”
The Eagles, who paid Agholor nearly $19 million over the last five years, made no attempt to re-sign the 27-year-old after last season ended.
He signed a one-year minimum salary benefit deal with the Raiders worth barely above minimum wage - $1.0475 million.
In Vegas, he’ll likely compete for slot reps with Hunter Renfrow, who had 49-for-605 with 4 TDs as a rookie 5th-round pick last year.
“Honestly, this is a beautiful opportunity for me to get a chance to play with a guy like Jon Gruden, who has a background in coaching receivers,” Agholor said. “I chose this opportunity to make myself a better player. There’s no better opportunity to play for a head coach that knows receiver play and can articulate ways you can get better.
“My No. 1 goal is to progress as a player. Lot of things that happened in the past, some really good things and some things I wanted to grow from. I told myself this opportunity is to be 2 percent better than the player I was in my previous five years.”
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