The NY Jets reportedly promised wide receiver Mecole Hardman an "expanded role" when he signed with the team this offseason. However, for whatever reason, that promise was not fulfilled in Week 1.
Lost in the chaos of everything on Monday night was the fact that Hardman, signed to a one-year, $6 million contract this offseason, did not play a single offensive snap against the Buffalo Bills.
Even undrafted rookie and Monday Night Football hero Xavier Gipson was on the field for one offensive snap. Hardman did play one snap, but it came on special teams. He was not used on offense.
There were some questions about Hardman's usage after the game, and it seems as though the former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver has those same questions — at least based on his social media activity.
One eagle-eyed Jets fan noticed that Hardman liked a post on Twitter that read, "Anyone else miss Mecole Hardman? He hasn't played at all tonight." Hardman has since un-liked the post.
Do the NY Jets have a plan for Mecole Hardman?
Jets head coach Robert Saleh was asked about Hardman's lack of usage when he spoke to reporters on Wednesday. Saleh insisted that the Jets' offensive plan changed once Aaron Rodgers was injured. "The plan was to play him," Saleh told reporters.
Saleh's excuse is valid, as the Jets did opt to run a ton of two of three-tight end sets throughout the game, likely as a way to establish the running game and take pressure off Zach Wilson. C.J. Uzomah and Jeremy Ruckert played 56 and 33 percent of the Jets' offensive snaps, respectively.
Still, it's worth wondering what the plan is for Hardman moving forward. The speedy wideout was signed by the Jets with the expectation that he would serve as one of their top three wide receivers.
Even after Corey Davis' retirement, it seems as though Hardman is fourth in the pecking order behind Garrett Wilson, Allen Lazard, and Randall Cobb. Perhaps that changes now that Rodgers is sidelined, but it should be noted that Cobb quickly passed Hardman on the depth chart this summer.
Hardman isn't returning kicks or punts, and he's evidently WR4 in New York. That doesn't sound like the "expanded role" the Jets reportedly promised him.
Hardman played 52 and 53 percent of the Chiefs' offensive snaps in 2021 and 2022, respectively. It's hard to imagine he comes anywhere close to those numbers with the Jets this season, barring injury.
How will Hardman respond to his limited role? That much remains to be seen. Either way, there seems to be somewhat of a disconnect or, at the very least, a change in plans. We'll see what Week 2 has in store for the two-time Super Bowl champion.