Mecole Hardman re-signing continues KC Chiefs' annoying trend

Mecole Hardman isn't raising the floor for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2024.
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs
Super Bowl LVIII - San Francisco 49ers v Kansas City Chiefs / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

June typically serves as a break in the NFL calendar, a barren time when nothing really happens save for OTAs marked by light practices. Usually, any actual news around this time is bad news. Nonetheless, as we inch closer to training camp, you will see some veterans still sitting on the market get called in, and that's exactly what happened Thursday afternoon when the Kansas City Chiefs re-signed wide receiver Mecole Hardman to a one-year deal.

Hardman re-signing on a one-year deal isn't a significant move by any means and shouldn't be made into anything more than competition for the bottom of the depth chart. Then again, I'm going to set aside that point I just made for a few paragraphs to analyze the Hardman signing. It's the middle of June, so why not?

Mecole Hardman isn't raising the floor for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2024.

You can put it on the record that I am not the fondest of Mecole Hardman as a football player. The reality of what he brings to the field seems to have been magically erased by the fact he caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Super Bowl—and that's great for Hardman.

That said, have people watched Mecole Hardman in the last five years? This signing continues a trend of Brett Veach trying to squeeze as much juice as he possibly can out of a former acquisition of his that is clearly not valued by anyone else. I personally find it annoying.

We saw the same thing happen with running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire this offseason when Kansas City brought him back on a one-year deal after a quiet free agency. Frank Clark is another one who was here beyond his expiration date. Regardless, both Hardman and CEH have been underwhelming in their time as Chiefs. Both showed flashes early on of being plus-level players only to regress or at least remain on the same level over the years. A couple of players stuck in purgatory. They're not good enough to catch on anywhere else but they have enough trust and goodwill built up to keep getting gigs in Kansas City.

Of course, Hardman had a brief stay with the New York Jets last year only to be benched and then traded back to Kansas City. Then he went on a podcast after the Super Bowl bashing the Jets and sounded entitled, as someone who blamed the situation around him for not succeeding.

Hardman can bash the Jets organization all he wants as they probably warrant some criticism, but let's not pretend like Hardman came back to Kansas City and then lit the world on fire. He actually somehow managed to be a net negative on what was already the worst wide receiver corps in the NFL.

Last year, Hardman had just 15 catches on 24 targets for 124 yards receiving, and we saw the same trends that have been a theme of his play for years now. Dropped passes, gave up on catchable balls, was not on the same page with Patrick Mahomes, and fumbles.

Last year alone, Hardman singlehandedly ended the Chiefs' 16-game winning streak over the Denver Broncos by muffing a punt inside the 20-yard line. He tried his best to give a playoff game away in Buffalo by fumbling twice on only two touches. Against Miami, he quit on his routes when Mahomes attempted to pass him the ball.

That's who Hardman has been for the last five years: Inconsistent. What's even more frustrating, though, is that there were better options for the Chiefs to add at wide receiver and they just decided not to. The Chiefs brought in Zay Jones on a free agent visit right before he ended up signing with the Arizona Cardinals. Looking at Jones and Hardman side by side, Jones has been much better than Hardman the last few years and would have provided a safe option at WR4 at the very least.

Why couldn't that get done? Why no effort to find an upgrade from Hardman when you still had $20 million in cap space from the L'Jarius Sneed trade since March? The only thing the Chiefs have done since trading Sneed has been bringing back Hardman and CEH.

That's not to say the Chiefs haven't upgraded at wide receiver at all. They obviously have made moves, but settling once again for a player like Hardman when most agreed the Chiefs could use another floor-raising veteran with a Rashee Rice suspension looming just irks me. Hardman isn't raising the floor.

Before everyone says, "Why are you complaining about someone who will be the Chiefs WR5/6?" or gets upset at me for overreacting to such an insignificant signing, I'll just say this: Mecole Hardman ideally should be a WR5 or WR6 and if that was the case it would be fine. But how many times have we suggested that same idea only for Hardman to somehow find himself with the ball in a huge moment in the season? Hardman was "only a depth wide receiver" last year and he nearly fumbled the season away against Buffalo when it mattered. 

If you're okay with Hardman being on this roster, don't get mad in October when he returns punts and fumbles one to lose a game. It's inevitably going to happen. Hardman might not end up even making the team when it's all said and done, but I feel like I've seen this movie too many times now that I know what will happen.