NY Jets tried to trade up for Mecole Hardman in 2019
By Justin Fried
The NY Jets signed former Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman to a one-year deal worth a maximum of $6.5 million last week. However, this isn't the first time the Jets have pursued Hardman.
According to ESPN's Rich Cimini, the Jets actually attempted to trade up in the 2019 NFL Draft to select Hardman. Ultimately, the Chiefs opted to stay put and select Hardman with the No. 56 overall pick in the second round.
So, who did the Jets end up taking? That would be former Florida edge rusher Jachai Polite, who is mostly remembered as one of the biggest draft busts in recent Jets history.
Polite was released as part of final roster cuts in his rookie season and would never play a game with the Jets. He appeared in 11 games with the Los Angeles Rams in 2020, even notching his first career sack, but it seems that might be the extent of his NFL career.
Following his release from the Rams' practice squad in January of 2021, Polite bounced around between multiple CFL rosters before being released for the second time in September of last year.
Hardman's career has taken a bit of a different trajectory.
The NY Jets hope to make up for lost time with Mecole Hardman
While Hardman never truly broke out in Kansas City, the former Georgia standout is a two-time Super Bowl champion who played an important role in Kansas City's offense and special-teams units.
Hardman's best season came in 2021 when he finished with a career-high 59 catches for 693 yards and two touchdowns. He's also a former Pro Bowler as a return specialist, a role he might take on with the Jets as well.
The Jets are hoping that Hardman's speed can prove to be a difference-maker in the team's offense. And in reality, he's the type of player those 2019 and 2020 Jets teams really could have used.
Imagine if Sam Darnold was able to throw to someone like Hardman instead of players like Deontay Burnett, Rishard Matthews, and Vyncint Smith. He certainly would have provided more value than Polite did.
Four years later, the Jets have finally landed the speedy playmaker that the old regime attempted to trade up for. Now, it's up for Hardman to make up for lost time this season.