Mecole Hardman Landing Spots: Lions, 49ers, and Chiefs Make Sense for Jets WR

Are the New York Jets already set to move on from Mecole Hardman? A Chiefs' reunion makes sense, while Hardman could also fit the with Lions, 49ers, and others.

Mecole Hardman’s stint with the New York Jets might not last all that long. Gang Green just signed the former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver this offseason, but the club is now “looking at options” involving Hardman, including a potential trade, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.

If the Jets end up moving Hardman, where are his best landing spots around the NFL?

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Mecole Hardman Landing Spots

Hardman has not been a part of New York’s game plans in any way, shape, or form. He played 22 offensive snaps and received one target over the Jets’ first four games before being made a healthy scratch for Week 5.

“I’m probably the best in the league in space,” Hardman told Rich Cimini of ESPN last week. “Maybe (the coaches) see something different. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to present itself.

“I think when I was in K.C., I proved that I was probably the most dangerous guy on the jet sweep or whether it be on the end-around or on the screen. I think I proved year-out that I was that guy that you had to worry about doing that.”

Hardman is only signed through 2023, so he’d be a rental for an acquiring team. The Jets might have to pay down most of his remaining salary to find a taker, and they shouldn’t be hoping for more than a future late-round pick swap in return.

Here are the teams that could make sense as destinations for Hardman.

Detroit Lions

We’ve been trying to send a wide receiver to the Detroit Lions all offseason. General manager Brad Holmes already made one failed trade for a Jets wideout — Denzel Mims, who was cut before the season — over the summer, so maybe the Lions wouldn’t be amendable to a repeat.

Detroit hopes 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams will eventually become its speed threat, but injuries and a sports betting suspension have hindered his development. While Josh Reynolds and Sam LaPorta have become excellent options behind Amon-Ra St. Brown, Hardman could give play-caller Ben Johnson a slightly different element on offense.

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers boast the NFL’s second-most efficient offense through five weeks, so it’s not as if they need additional weapons. But Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Jauan Jennings have all been banged up this year, so the Niners could stand to add more depth.

Hardman could profile as Samuel’s direct backup. Samuel, who has never played a complete season without missing time due to injuries, is more than just a receiver. Hardman could spell Samuel on rushing attempts, end-arounds, and sweeps, taking some of the onus off the 49ers’ star.

Kansas City Chiefs

Meet the name boss, same as the old boss? The Kansas City Chiefs moved on from Hardman after four seasons and 152 catches, but that was mainly because the Chiefs didn’t want to meet Hardman’s asking price.

MORE: NFL Offense Rankings 2023

If the Jets are willing to absorb most of Hardman’s salary, he could be available for something close to the league minimum. Travis Kelce returned to Sunday’s game after injuring his ankle, but Kansas City can’t afford to be without their star tight end again.

Hardman isn’t an All-Pro, but he might be able to offer an upgrade over what Skyy Moore, Kadarius Toney, and others have produced thus far.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Mike Evans might be able to return on Sunday after suffering a hamstring injury in Week 4. Even still, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could use an injection of speed on the outside.

Evans and Chris Godwin aren’t going anywhere, and Trey Palmer and Deven Thompkins have flashed in limited opportunities. But we’d be curious to see how Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales could deploy Hardman’s quicks to get opposing defenses off balance.

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