NFL free agency: Jets reportedly sign ex-Chiefs WR Mecole Hardman

Mecole Hardman is headed to the Jets. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Mecole Hardman is headed to the Jets. (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)

The New York Jets made a curious free-agent acquisition Wednesday when the team reportedly signed receiver Mecole Hardman to a one-year, $6.5 million deal, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Hardman, 25, spent the past four seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs where he caught 151 passes for 2,088 yards and 16 touchdowns.

It looks like an odd signing only because Hardman is the second receiver the team signed this spring after New York inked former Green Bay Packers pass catcher Allen Lazard last week and because the team has some depth with Garrett Wilson and Corey Davis. After the Jets traded Elijah Moore to the Cleveland Browns soon after signing Hardman, the deal made a little more sense.

Hardman could be a replacement for return specialist and gadget receiver Braxton Berrios, who signed with the Miami Dolphins after the Jets cut him.

Hardman has returned 62 punts and 39 kickoffs in his career and has the speed to play that role in New York. He also ranks third among receivers in the percentage of yards after the catch, per Next Gen Stats. Hardman's 63% yards after the catch among receivers with at least 100 receptions trails only Carolina Panthers receiver Laviska Shenault and San Francisco 49ers receiver Deebo Samuel but is ahead of, coincidentally, Berrios.

The biggest question for Hardman is his health. He didn't miss any games during his first three seasons but didn't play in nine games in 2022 with a pelvic injury. Hardman returned for the AFC title game but didn't play in Super Bowl LVII because of the injury.