Mecole Hardman touts Jets’ “foundational” pieces as reason for free agency decision

Mecole Hardman introduced as newest member of Jets
New York Jets

There aren’t too many receivers across the NFL that are faster than Mecole Hardman. Even with a recent rash of injuries, the Jets are expecting big things from the newest speed demon on the roster. 

Hardman signed a one-year deal with New York Wednesday afternoon. In four seasons with Patrick Mahomes as his quarterback, the former Georgia Bulldog has totaled over 13 yards per reception, but has dealt with a slew of injuries over the last few seasons. 

Coming off a season in which we went through core surgery, Hardman is still in the process of recovery but believes he’ll be ready to go once workouts start, and maybe even faster after. 

“Health-wise, I’m probably a few weeks out, but definitely ahead of schedule. Health won’t be a factor coming into the spring. Definitely not one of my worries right now.” Hardman said when he was unveiled as the newest member of the Jets Thursday afternoon. 

It isn’t easy for a player like Hardman to leave a championship-level quarterback like Patrick Mahomes. Ultimately though, the main reason why he chose the Jets had to do with the current roster in front. 

“They have a great foundation. They have some nice pieces. They added (Allen) Lazard, a great second-year player in Garrett Wilson…playing alongside those names is attractive.” Hardman explained.

And while the speed demon said that Aaron Rodgers was not a major factor in coming to New York, the coaching staff led by Robert Saleh and Nathaniel Hackett also played a key role in choosing the Jets – even if his role hasn’t been fully ironed out yet. 

“Just figuring out a gameplan on what exactly my role will be in this offense. The return game is something I love to do and probably will continue to do here.” Hardman said. “Receiving-wise, I just want to do what I can to help the team win the game.”

New York’s newest offensive weapon can be used in a variety of ways. He became the first wide receiver in the Super Bowl era to get two rushing touchdowns and a receiving touchdown in the same game during the 2022 season against the top defense in the NFL. His ability to make plays on jet sweeps and other creative plays leaves a lot of creativity on the table for the new offense that is expected to be run. 

Of course, having a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback will certainly help out as well. While New York continues to wait out a trade for Rodgers, it isn’t lost on Hardman that his impact could be extremely helpful to him. 

“Any quarterback of that caliber can help anybody out. They can make throws other quarterbacks can’t make. Once you get that on your team it just makes you a better receiver overall.”

The Jets knew they needed to add speed to the roster. It just so happens their latest move might’ve been to grab one of the fastest current players in the game today. And while it doesn’t appear a role has been specifically carved out just yet, it provides New York offense another wrinkle to their group that will make them even harder to defend in 2023. 

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