The classic Super Bowl champion exodus has occurred in free agency for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2023, but have players chosen to leave, or has KC let them walk?
The answer to that question is probably case by case — and some players may never say one way or the other — but former wide receiver Mecole Hardman did comment on the Chiefs’ interest level in free agency during his introductory press conference with the New York Jets. To be fair, he was asked.
A reporter pondered: “Mecole, did Kansas City make an effort to re-sign you?”
“Um… honestly I don’t know,” the 2019 second-round pick responded before explaining his knowledge of the situation. “I don’t know if they offered anything worth talking about or if they just were moving on. I don’t really know the exact details. I’m pretty sure they probably offered something but if they did, it probably wasn’t nothing that my agents and them thought to consider.”
KSHB41’s Nick Jacobs clipped this moment of the press conference and shared it with Chiefs Kingdom on Twitter.
Chiefs Fans React to Mecole Hardman’s Free Agency Comments
KC fans immediately speculated on Hardman’s reply, and whether it was truthful or not.
“So his agent doesn’t tell him his offers?” One fan asked, while another quickly wrote back: “Or we didn’t offer and he didn’t want to say that.”
“He wasn’t offered anything,” another fan stated bluntly after watching the video. A fourth fan agreed with that assessment, tweeting: “‘No’ is what he meant to say.”
Most interested parties shared this opinion, and one popular response even photoshopped general manager Brett Veach’s face onto a meme from the History Channel show “Pawn Stars.” It was captioned, “best I can do is the vet minimum,” with superfan ChiefsAholic playing the role of Veach’s No. 2.
Finally, one KC supporter summed up the situation, voicing: “The writing has been on the wall. Nobody is shocked with no offer or low price offer. Skyy Moore, KT [Kadarius Toney], and Mecole are essentially the same type of player. Mecole was gone as soon as KT arrived.”
Hardman was given a one-year prove-it contract by the Jets, that could pay up to $6.5 million according to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport. The exact details of the deal have yet to be revealed, although it’s expected that Hardman’s base salary and guaranteed money will end up being much lower than that $6.5 million max value.
Young Chiefs WR Corps Could Get Younger in 2023
With JuJu Smith-Schuster gone and Justin Watson unsigned at the moment, Marquez Valdes-Scantling has become the lone elder statesman on the roster at age 28. The rest of the current WR corps is 25 or younger, and that could be the plan for this KC offense in 2023 after the regime’s second Super Bowl title.
USA Today’s Charles Goldman (Chiefs Wire) had Kansas City drafting two new second-round wide receivers during a seven-round mock draft in which he traded out of round one. They were Tennessee’s Cedric Tillman and Penn State’s Parker Washington.
On Tillman, he reasoned: “Tillman would probably have been considered a first-round talent in this class if not for a season-ending ankle injury that shortened his senior campaign. He appeared in just six games, catching 37 passes for 417 receiving yards and three touchdowns. The season prior, Tillman became the first 1,000-yard receiver since 2013 (Justin Hunter).”
Tillman weighs in at 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, and ran a 4.54-second 40-yard dash with a 37-inch vertical and a 128-inch broad jump. “He has the speed and explosiveness to win in the deep passing game,” per Goldman, “but he also has the body type to play the X receiver role.”
The reporter noted that Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy attended Washington’s pro day, scouting: “The 5-foot-10 and 212-pound wideout plays much bigger than his size and has a penchant for making some acrobatic catches. It’s a playstyle that certainly could mesh well with Patrick Mahomes throwing the rock.”
Like Tillman, Washington was slowed by injuries in 2022, but showed potential in prior seasons at Penn State.
A plan to replace their free agency losses in the draft would obviously make Kansas City exceedingly young at WR. Sure, there were priority areas this spring — offensive tackle, defensive line, an eventual Chris Jones extension. But considering the Chiefs’ unwillingness to pay Smith-Schuster and Hardman, plus the latest on a potential DeAndre Hopkins trade, perhaps Veach and his staff didn’t feel wide receiver was as crucial an area of need as fans did.