On Wednesday, the New York Jets traded wide receiver Elijah Moore to the Cleveland Browns, providing draft capital for a possible Aaron Rodgers trade. They signed a free agent contract with Mecole Hardman, a former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver, almost simultaneously.
Moore and the Jets’ 2023 third-round pick (No. 74th overall) to the Browns in exchange for their second-round pick (No. 42). The Jets now have two picks in the second round picks (Nos. 42 and 43), which they can use to their advantage in their bid to acquire Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.
Rodgers said he wanted to play for the Jets in 2023 a week ago, but the two teams haven’t been able to agree on a salary.
According to a source, Hardman signed a one-year contract. According to a source, it could be worth up to $6.5 million. Hardman can take Moore’s slot receiver spot for the Jets.
Cleveland’s offensive priority this offseason was finding another deep threat for quarterback Deshaun Watson. A source told that the Browns were interested in Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy, but they were able to negotiate a deal for Moore instead.
In October, Moore made a trade request because he was dissatisfied with his role in the offense. According to sources, he was sent home to cool off after blowing up at then-offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur before a midweek practice. His request for trade became public a few hours later. The Jets benched him that week against the Denver Broncos because they stated at the time that they would not honor his request.
Moore’s production increased during the second half of the season, but his overall stats of 37 catches, 446 yards, and one touchdown were disappointing. He had only one reception during a four-game stretch at midseason.
Moore, a 2021 second-round pick, was regarded as an essential component of the Jets’ foundation, particularly after a promising rookie season with 43 receptions, 538 yards, and 5 touchdowns. As they switched offensive coordinators and decided to shake up the receiving corps, the Jets’ plans changed over the past few weeks. They brought in Nathaniel Hackett to take LaFleur’s place and made a splash last week by signing Allen Lazard, a former Green Bay Packers player.
Lazard and Hardman join Garrett Wilson, the NFL Hostile Thenew hotness, as the main three recipients. The Jets additionally have Corey Davis and Denzel Mims, both entering the last year of their contract. In the coming weeks, they might be traded or released. If Davis were to leave, there would be $10.5 million in cap space that could be used to complete a trade for Rodgers.
Moore was the Planes’ essential opening collector, a situation at which Hardman succeeded for the Bosses.
Odell Beckham Jr., a free agent wide receiver, has piqued the Jets’ interest. It’s not clear if Hardman’s arrival prevents them from signing Beckham.
During the 2022 regular season, Hardman, 25, caught 25 passes for 297 yards and four touchdowns for the Chiefs. Additionally, he ran for two touchdowns and 31 yards.
A pelvic injury kept him out of the Chiefs’ divisional round playoff game and the remaining nine regular-season games. In the AFC Championship Game, he came back to catch two passes for 10 yards, but he didn’t play in Super Bowl LVII.
Since Hardman had surgery on his groin and pelvis on February 21, he probably won’t be able to participate in the Jets’ offseason program.
In 2019, the Chiefs selected Hardman in the second round of the draft. In 2021, he had his best season, achieving career highs of 59 receptions and 693 yards.
Hardman has 151 career receptions for 2,088 yards and 16 touchdowns. During his time with the Chiefs, he also returned a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns.
He joins JuJu Smith-Schuster, who signed a three-year deal with the New England Patriots, as the second notable wide receiver to leave the Chiefs during the free agency period.