Wide receiver Mecole Hardman will head back to the Kansas City Chiefs after the team finalized a trade with the New York Jets on Wednesday.

Hardman only caught one pass in six games with the Jets and was not targeted at all in four contests.

During training camp, many speculated how Hardman would be used in New York’s offense. The receiver became known in Kansas City as a deep-ball threat, a tool the Jets’ more conservative offense has not traditionally used. Hardman alluded to difficulties connecting with Aaron Rodgers in August.

“Yeah, we’re continuing trying to build the chemistry,” Hardman said at the time. “Aaron is a tricky guy when it comes to certain things, but I think it comes with time. I think we still need to get on the same page. For us, like quick game and intermediate, I think we’re pretty fine. As far as the deep ball go, we got to figure out when we’re going to back shoulder and when we’re going to throw it over the top, so that’s coming. But other than that, we are doing well.”


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After Rodgers left New York’s Week 1 matchup with a torn Achilles tendon, it’s likely that Hardman’s role in the offense was minimized even further. In a system simplified to better accommodate backup quarterback Zach Wilson, the team became one of the most conservative in football, favoring a heavy running game and short passes to accompany an elite defense. Hardman was no longer necessary, if he ever was. On Kansas City, however, he has already demonstrated his usefulness to quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

In each of his first three seasons with the Chiefs, Hardman earned at least 500 receiving yards and was well on his way to career-high totals in 2022 before going down with an abdomen injury. He has earned 16 career touchdowns in the NFL, many of which came on deep routes.

Now back in Kansas City, Hardman could replenish a receiving core that has taken criticism in the early part of the 2023 season. Beyond star tight end Travis Kelce, Mahomes has had few options to rely on consistently. Hardman never provided much reliability as a Chiefs player, but his playmaking ability could assist others in the fast-paced offense.

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