Mecole Hardman signed with the New York Jets not only to presumably play with Aaron Rodgers but also to join a revamped receiver corps that includes Offensive Rookie of the Year Garrett Wilson and fellow newcomer Allen Lazard.
"I think the Jets was a good situation," Hardman said during his introductory press conference Thursday. "I think they got a great foundation here and they got some nice pieces. Allen Lazard, him signing, I think playing aside him, and they got a great second-year player now in Garrett Wilson, who had an absolutely unbelievable year. Guys with those names, to play alongside them is attractive.
"Obviously, the news with A-Rod and everything like that, we still don't know what's going on there, but that's something you can think about. Besides that, the Jets itself was like the right fit for me."
The Jets inked Lazard and Hardman this offseason to give the offense proven players with diverse skill sets to pair with Wilson. After signing Hardman, Gang Green traded Elijah Moore to Cleveland. The future of Corey Davis and Denzel Mims remain up in the air with the prospect of adding Rodgers still looming.
Wilson proved during his rookie campaign he has the trait to be a No. 1 alpha. Assuming the Rodgers trade goes through, he projects as a Davante Adams-type go-to target for the four-time MVP. Lazard brings much-needed toughness, blocking and a dirty-work receiver to New York.
Hardman, on the other hand, has proven his speed can be killer in space. The Chiefs took advantage on jet sweeps and screens, allowing the wideout to burn for yards. He never really found a consistent niche as a downfield playmaker in K.C. but hopes to develop into more than just a gadget player with the Jets.
"Definitely, the return game is something that I love to do and probably will continue to do here if that's the plan and if they want me to do that," Hardman said. "As far as receiver-wise, I just want to do what I can do to help the team win the game. Whether that's jet sweeps, quick screens or stretching the field. Whenever my number is called, I just want to go out there and do it and just do it the best way I can.
"I think being in this offense and going forward, I probably can show people a little bit more than just the quick game or the jet sweep and actually showing a little bit more of the route tree, catching the ball in the middle of the field or some out-breaking routes or stuff like that just to show a little bit more of my game."
In four seasons in K.C., Hardman generated 151 catches for 2,088 yards and 16 TDs. The 25-year-old played in only eight games in 2022 due to injury but noted he hopes to be fully healthy for OTAs after undergoing core muscle surgery this offseason.
While he might not stuff the stat sheet enough to get fantasy football managers excited, the Hardman signing in New York fits from a real-life football perspective, giving the Jets versatility at the position and a player whose skill set meshes well with the top of their receiver group.