Mecole Hardman Jr. heads back to Chiefs in trade with Jets

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr., a member of two Super Bowl-winning teams with the Chiefs, returned to Kansas City via a trade from the New York Jets on Wednesday.

The Chiefs are sending a 2025 sixth-round draft pick to the Jets for Hardman and a 2025 seventh-round pick, sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

The Chiefs have mostly struggled with their wide receiver play this season. Their leader at the position in catches, receptions and yards is a rookie, second-round draft pick Rashee Rice.

Veteran wide receivers Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore haven’t produced as the Chiefs hoped. The three have combined for 35 catches, 353 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Hardman was the Chiefs’ second-round draft pick in 2019. He had his most productive season as a rookie, when he scored seven touchdowns, including one on a kickoff return, and had a per-catch average of 20.7 yards.

Hardman had career bests of 59 catches and 693 yards in 2021. His production fell off last season, when he missed eight games because of injuries.

The Jets signed Hardman to a one-year, $4 million contract this offseason, but he has played only 28 offensive snaps for them and has only one reception in five games.

Hardman never publicly complained about his lack of involvement, but he expressed frustration in a recent interview with ESPN.

“I’m probably the best in the league in space,” he said. “Maybe [the coaches] see something different.”

At the time, he wondered why he wasn’t being used on screens and gadget-type runs.

Hardman, who received $3.6 million in guarantees from the Jets, was leapfrogged on the depth chart by rookie Xavier Gipson, who became the fourth wide receiver. Gipson also won the punt-returning job from Hardman in training camp. In Week 5, Hardman was a healthy scratch. Irv Charles was made the fifth receiver against the Denver Broncos that week because of his ability on special teams.

ESPN’s Rich Cimini contributed to this report.

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