On Day 2 of organized team activities (OTAs) for the Kansas City Chiefs, head coach Andy Reid revealed that fourth-year receiver Mecole Hardman is dealing with a minor injury.
Reid said that Hardman “tweaked” his hamstring on Wednesday, May 25, so he did not practice on Thursday.
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While we are still roughly two months away from training camp and it is a minor injury, it’s nevertheless discouraging that Hardman has to miss out on one of the key — although voluntary — parts of Kansas City’s offseason program.
Keeping a strong rapport with quarterback Patrick Mahomes is essential if Hardman wants to capitalize on the 240 vacated targets within the Chiefs offense in wake of Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, and Demarcus Robinson departing this offseason. But he can’t continue to do that if he’s sidelined with an injury.
With Hardman gone, it will give JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, and others the opportunity to catch more passes and build chemistry with Mahomes.
Hardman Has Opportunity to Lead KC’s WR Room
The Chiefs only have one wide receiver on the roster that has been with the organization prior to the 2021 season: Mecole Hardman.
With so many new faces in Kansas City, it will take time for Mahomes to develop chemistry with them. However, Mahomes will already be in sync with Hardman thanks to four years of working together. At this point, it’s about building on that rapport and getting it to the point where Hardman is consistently one of Mahomes’ first looks when scanning the field.
Hardman, the 56th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, registered a career-high 59 catches on 83 targets for 693 yards and 2 touchdowns during the 2021 season, per Pro Football Reference. That’s all while Tyreek Hill (159) and Travis Kelce (134) were the top target-getters on the team.
The Georgia product is in the final year of his rookie deal with Kansas City, which means a strong 2022 season could put Hardman in line for a big contract next offseason.
Chiefs Expect Hardman to be Patient on Extension Talks
Hardman could try to cash in via an extension this offseason due to a hot market financially for wide receivers right now and in case he doesn’t produce to expectation for whatever reason in 2022. But Kansas City general manager Brett Veach doesn’t think Hardman and his representation are running to the table to start those conversations. That wouldn’t be in their best interest, according to Veach.
“It’s a good question,” Veach said to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk on May 9 when asked about the timing of a Hardman extension. “I think one of the things that makes it more difficult is just where this receiver market went. On one hand, we can sit there and come up with something that makes sense for us and him. But on the other hand, when you come off of free agency period with these numbers were so high and there’s also the mindset or thought process of the cap will only get bigger now.
“I think it’ll probably tend to go in the direction where the agents and the players want to wait and if last year’s any indication of where this thing’s going to go, at some point it’ll kind of flatline out and things will become more balanced in regards to getting stuff done ahead of time. We’ll certainly have those type of conversations, but I think that if this offseason tipped its hand it’s more in the lines of the agent and the player just saying, ‘Well, might as well just wait.’ A lot of players benefitted from waiting and I think until that flatlines and settles down, I think there’ll be more of a desire for probably the agents more so to wait and play it out.”