The speedy offensive weapon was later activated off the injured reserve just before the end of his 21-day practice window, making him eligible for the playoffs should KC need him. Considering the first-round bye, the Divisional Round initially felt like a good return date for Hardman but that looks doubtful now after he missed his second-straight practice with the Jacksonville Jaguars matchup looming on Saturday.
In fact, after what sounded like another setback for Hardman on Tuesday, media members and analysts speculated that the wideout could be done for the season on social media. Today on January 18, Hardman finally broke silence on his recovery with a two-word tweet.
“Marathon > Sprint,” he voiced cryptically, hinting that he’s playing the long game with this injury, rather than rushing back before his body is ready.
Free Agency Could Be Factoring Into Mecole Hardman’s Cautious Approach
It’s fair to mention that Hardman is approaching his first ever free agency period as an unrestricted asset, and after the Chiefs’ Kadarius Toney acquisition, it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up cashing in elsewhere.
To many KC fans, Hardman might feel like a letdown. He’s a former second-round pick that failed to put up 700 receiving yards in a single season.
Having said that, he’s still a potential offensive weapon with unteachable speed — even if things never worked out in Kansas City. At just 25 years old next season, someone will most likely be willing to throw some money at a wide receiver like that so long as he’s healthy heading into 2023. Clearly, Hardman plans to be.
If this is truly the end of the former Georgia Bulldog in a Chiefs jersey, it’ll definitely be a disappointing finish.
Entering what was supposed to be a breakout campaign without Tyreek Hill, Hardman had his worst season yet due to injuries and inconsistency. He finished with just 297 receiving yards and another 31 on the ground, although he was a big factor in the red zone with six total touchdowns.
It’ll be interesting to see if Hardman takes some sort of prove-it deal in 2023 — similar to the one JuJu Smith-Schuster received from KC. After missing nine-straight games to close out the regular season and potentially more in the playoffs, that type of contract could be the speedster’s best bet this spring.
Chiefs Twitter Reactions to Mecole Hardman’s Cryptic Tweet
The replies were mixed after Hardman’s message to fans. Some were apologetic, hoping for good health moving forward while others questioned why the wideout still isn’t playing after all this time.
“Better to be fully ready than rush back and risk something worse. Take it easy and let the boys get this one for you my man!” One fan stated encouragingly.
Another wrote: “Thinking of you and wishing you continued improvement.”
A third even suggested that Hardman take his time getting healthy and then re-sign this spring. “Let’s having an amazing year next year,” he added.
On the other side of the spectrum, a less forgiving fan messaged back: “Super Bowl > Offseason.”
“When are you gonna play in a chiefs uni again?” Another asked.