Nathaniel Hackett and the NY Jets decided to officially throw their hands up and admit defeat with Mecole Hardman. After luring him away from the Kansas City Chiefs with a $4 million payday and the promise of a big role, the Jets have sent him back to Andy Reid in a deal that netted them a sixth-round pick.
Hardman is a limited receiver, but his speed can break a game open. Not only did the Jets underutilize Hardman to the point where he became utterly anonymous, but they did so while keeping one of the worst players in the league, Randall Cobb, entrenched as WR3.
By Robert Saleh's own admission, Hackett has a great deal of control and responsibility with regard to the offensive machinations and personnel. This trade to Kansas City wouldn't happen if Hackett didn't give his stamp of approval.
For a Jets passing game that ranks among the league's worst and will likely stay there for the rest of the season, the team can't afford to make too many personnel errors. Picking Cobb and an undrafted rookie in Xavier Gipson over Hardman could be one of them.
Nathaniel Hackett could ruin NY Jets offense after Mecole Hardman trade
While Gipson has a similar skill set to that of Hardman and has proven his value as a returner, choosing an undrafted rookie free agent over a proven speedster with multiple championship rings to flash in your face could bite New York. Cobb, meanwhile, is a horror show.
While Hardman played just 28 snaps with the (good for $143,000 per snap for those scoring at home), Cobb played over half the snaps against Philadelphia. Cobb has just three catches for 20 yards this season while possessing the highest drop rate and worst run-blocking grade among receivers. He's bad.
It's one thing to let Hardman flounder out on the field, but at least that would show Hackett tried to spice things up and integrate him into the game plan. It's another to let him rot away on the bench without experimenting, giving lame excuses like a lack of third-down conversions as to why Hardman was demoted.
While Hardman did admit in his first media availability back in Kansas City that he signed with New York to play with Aaron Rodgers, the fact Hackett didn't try to unleash a downfield threat like Hardman alongside a young quarterback with a big arm in Zach Wilson bordered on malpractice.
The Cobb show can't continue, even if Hardman can't step in to replace him.