As reported by Nick Underhill, the Jets have signed Hardee to a three-year deal although the details of the contract are still unknown.
Hardee has spent the last four seasons in New Orleans where he’s been used almost exclusively as a special-teamer. The 27-year-old has excelled as a gunner on punts and has been an important part of one of the best special-teams units in football.
The Jets’ special-teams notably took a step back in 2020 after it was one of the strongest parts of the team in the two years prior. Signing Hardee is an attempt to correct that.
Justin Hardee is a worthwhile addition for the NY Jets.
Hardee is a highly-regarded locker room leader and was a fan-favorite in New Orleans. Originally an undrafted free agent in 2017, the Illinois product was actually a college receiver before switching over to cornerback in the NFL.
The Houston Texans picked up him shortly after the 2017 NFL Draft, but he was released as part of final roster cuts in September. That’s when the Saints came in and scooped him up.
Over the last four years, Hardee has played in 56 games with the Saints serving a vital role on special teams. Hardee was on the field for nearly 50 percent of special-teams snaps a year ago, however, he’s rarely seen the field on defense.
In 56 career games, he’s only registered a defensive snap in seven of those games — two of which he played just one snap.
Hardee is strictly a special-teamer, but he’s widely considered to be one of the best in the league at what he does.
He’s drawn comparisons to Matthew Slater of the New England Patriots for his work covering kicks and punts and could become an integral part of special teams coordinator Brant Boyer’s unit.
Think of this as the Jets’ “Josh Bellamy signing” of the offseason. Hardly a flashy move, but the Jets are looking to fill a role and Hardee could do that.
Perhaps he becomes a fan-favorite in New York before long as well.