Mecole Hardman chose New York Jets due to greater offensive promises
By Matt Conner
Mecole Hardman was promised a much greater workload offensively to sign with the New York Jets.
Mecole Hardman was one of those free agents that felt like he could sign anywhere.
The former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver endured a nightmare of a contract year but still came out with multiple suitors in free agency. In the end, he agreed to leave K.C. to join the New York Jets on a one-year deal that could allow him to re-enter the market next spring with greater earning potential. At least, that is the hope.
Part of the selling point for the Jets, as it turns out, was a vision for a greater part of the offensive load with Robert Saleh’s team. As the Jets are reportedly figuring out how to trade for Aaron Rodgers, the offense should blossom with a steady hand at quarterback and Hardman had good reason for wanting to be a part of it. But part of the sales job to bring him in was reportedly about increasing his level of responsibility on offense beyond what Kansas City ever asked him to do.
According to ESPN reporter Rich Cimini, Hardman has the Jets convinced his ceiling is much higher than anything he’s shown on the field in his first four seasons in the league:
"“…Hardman signed with the Jets, in part, because they promised he’d be able to expand his route tree in their offense. In Kansas City, he was used at the line of scrimmage (jet sweeps, bubble screens, etc.) and on vertical routes, with not much in between. The Jets believe he has untapped ability on intermediate routes.”"
The Jets might have good reason to believe in Hardman in this way. Hardman’s contract year is probably not a fair body of work to even begin to look at, knowing he was dealing with a heel injury through the first few weeks and then a pelvic injury robbed him of everything past Week 9. Before that, Hardman was primarily picked by the Chiefs’ front office because he provided a fallback skillset for Tyreek Hill, who was once accused of charges that would have kept him from playing again.
Did the Chiefs ever utilize Hardman to his full potential? Did the Chiefs miss out on something here? Are the Jets wishing and hoping for something that doesn’t exist? Did the Chiefs only use Hardman the way they did because that’s the only way he brings real value onto the field?
These are questions no one can answer in full, at least not without some further evidence on the field for another team. The Jets don’t exactly have a lot locked up in this belief considering they signed Hardman for a single season at just over $4 million. But it sounds as if the Jets have a real plan for Hardman on offense even with the presence of Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, Corey Davis, Breece Hall, and others.
It will be interesting to see just how much more Hardman can produce—assuming he stays healthy in 2023.