Source: Jets add Hardman to crowded WR room
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Adding to an already crowded wide receiver room, the New York Jets agreed to a one-year contract Wednesday with former Kansas City Chiefs wideout Mecole Hardman, a source told ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Hardman joins newly signed Allen Lazard, Garrett Wilson and Elijah Moore as the Jets’ top receivers. Veterans Corey Davis and Denzel Mims, both entering the final year of their contacts, could be released or traded in the coming weeks. Moving on from Davis would create $10.5 million in cap room, which could be needed to complete a trade for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Moore, too, could be dangled in trade talks. He was the Jets’ slot receiver, a position where Hardman excelled for the Chiefs. In fact, 10 of Hardman’s 16 receiving touchdowns came out of the slot, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
The recent additions should potentially help Rodgers, who recommended Lazard in conversations with Jets brass. In turn, the Jets signed him to a four-year, $44 million contract. The exact terms of Hardman’s deal weren’t immediately available, but it can be worth up to $6.5 million, a source said.
The Jets have expressed interest in free agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. It’s unclear if Hardman’s arrival precludes them from signing Beckham.
Hardman, 25, played in eight games for the Chiefs during the 2022 regular season, catching 25 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 31 yards and two touchdowns.
He missed the final nine regular-season games and the Chiefs’ divisional round playoff game with what the team called a pelvic injury. He returned to catch two passes for 10 yards in the AFC Championship Game but sat out Super Bowl LVII.
Hardman joined the Chiefs as a second-round draft pick in 2019. His best season came in 2021, when he set career highs with 59 receptions and 693 yards.
Hardman, who also returned a kickoff and a punt for a touchdown during his time with the Chiefs, has 151 career receptions for 2,088 yards and 16 touchdowns.
He is the second notable wide receiver to leave the Chiefs in free agency, joining JuJu Smith-Schuster, who signed a three-year contract with the New England Patriots.
ESPN’s Adam Teicher contributed to this report.