When Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers met with Jets brass about a hopeful 2023 team-up, he reportedly listed several pass catchers he'd welcome as Gang Green teammates. One of them, Allen Lazard, has already signed with the team. On Wednesday, the Jets have added to Rodgers' projected supporting cast with a wideout who wasn't on the list: former Chiefs speedster Mecole Hardman.
Hardman and the Jets agreed Wednesday to a one-year contract, ESPN first reported, while New York presumably continues trade talks with the Packers to acquire Rodgers. Hardman can earn up to $6.5 million on the deal, per NFL Media.
The move is notable not only because Hardman was one of the top remaining veterans available at the position, coming off four seasons in Kansas City, but because the Jets already boasted a crowded pass catching corps. Also under contract are Lazard, who inked a four-year, $44M deal recently, 2022 Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson, former second-round pick Elijah Moore, ex-Titans standout Corey Davis and another former second-rounder in Denzel Mims. Both Moore and Mims have been the subject of trade talks in the past, and could be expendable with Hardman now in tow.
Hardman, 25, was a second-round pick by the Chiefs out of Georgia in 2019. He's never started more than eight games in a season and missed nine games in 2022 due to injury. When healthy, however, he was a versatile utility man for Andy Reid's offense, averaging more than 20 yards per catch as a rookie, posting a career-high 693 receiving yards in 2021, and serving as one of Kansas City's primary return specialists.