Jets To Sign WR Mecole Hardman

The Jets’ receiver room has become quite crowded. After bringing in Allen Lazard, the team intends to sign former Chiefs speedster Mecole Hardman, Jeremy Fowler of reports (on Twitter).

Thought to be on track for a decent payday, Hardman will settle for a one-year deal, Ian Rapoport of tweets. Hardman’s Jets pact can max out at $6.5MM. Equipped with some new information compared to when free agency started, Hardman will join a Jets team expected to make a rather notable quarterback upgrade.

Aaron Rodgers is likely coming to the Jets, which will put Hardman on the opposite path ex-Chiefs teammate Marquez Valdes-Scantling traversed when he switched from Rodgers to Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback. A former second-round pick drafted during Tyreek Hill‘s second major off-field scandal — when it was not certain if the All-Pro would return to the Chiefs — Hardman teamed with Hill for three seasons and was part of Kansas City’s attack after the elite speed merchant left for Miami.

The Chiefs did not have Hardman’s services for Super Bowl LVII, after he reinjured his groin in the AFC championship game. But he played a key role in helping the team along toward another No. 1 seed. Hardman, 25, never became a surefire No. 2 wideout for the Chiefs, but he showed flashes and remains one of the NFL’s fastest wide receivers. The Chiefs often used the Georgia product in the return game and on gadget plays; he displayed his penchant for gadget success last season, scoring three touchdowns (two rushing) in a blowout of the 49ers.

Hardman proved inconsistent in Kansas City, but he still ripped off three straight 500-plus-yard receiving seasons from 2019-21; this included a 693-yard showing in 2021. The Chiefs have now lost Hardman and JuJu Smith-Schuster. While Kansas City was planning on letting Hardman walk, the defending champions were hoping to re-sign Smith-Schuster. And they expected Hardman to fare better on the market. Coming off groin surgery, the 5-foot-10 pass catcher did not command a hefty commitment. The Chiefs are planning to carve out a bigger role for Kadarius Toney, and Skyy Moore will likely see his responsibilities increase. But the team remains on the hunt for a higher-profile receiver.

As far as the Jets go, Hardman gives the presumptive Rodgers team five notable wideouts. He joins Lazard, Garrett Wilson, Corey Davis and Elijah Moore. As of now, it seems like one of the holdovers will not be part of Gang Green’s 2023 equation. With the Jets being able to save $10.5MM by cutting Davis in the final year of his contract, the former top-five pick has been the player most often connected to a departure. Though, Moore did request a trade last year. Hardman’s arrival also stands to impede a Jets pursuit of Odell Beckham Jr., who appeared on Rodgers’ wish list. Rodgers has also been connected to wanting Randall Cobb — ahead of what would be a 13th season — to join the Jets.

As it stands, however, the Jets are making big commitments at receiver — something the Packers did not do last year after they let Valdes-Scantling walk and traded Davante Adams. Rodgers is on track to have an array of options, some of which were held back by the Jets’ QB situation last year, to target as he (assuming this trade crosses the goal line) prepares to change cities.

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