The New York Jets have made a lot of changes to their wide receiver room in 2023 and one addition flew under the radar a bit — the signing of former Kansas City Chiefs second-round selection Mecole Hardman.
The big-play threat has had an up-and-down career in KC, from his eight dropped passes in 2020 to his seven total touchdowns in 2019 and his six TDs in just eight appearances in 2022. As a receiver, Hardman’s best campaign came in 2019 in terms of yardage at 693. His worst total came last year (297), although a pelvic injury sidelined him for the entire second half of the season.
With the Jets, the speedster hopes for more consistency, and he’s decided to switch his number as he embarks on a fresh start — not to mention wide receiver Garrett Wilson currently dons the No. 17 he wore in Kansas City. Hardman revealed his new number on Twitter on May 4.
“6 for 6 😎,” the touchdown machine voiced with a photoshopped picture of him in the Gotham Green No. 6 Jets jersey. That does have a nice ring to it.
Jets WR Mecole Hardman Is First ‘Non-Kicker’ to Rep No. 6 Since Mark Sanchez
After photos leaked of Hardman in uniform at NYJ facilities on May 4, Jets X-Factor analyst Michael Nania commented on the new wideout’s selection.
“#6 for Mecole Hardman,” he tweeted. “Jets have had a few different random kickers wear it over the years, but Hardman is the first non-kicker to wear #6 since [quarterback Mark] Sanchez.”
Nania added that [kicker Greg] Zuerlein was wearing 6 last year, so I guess he must have changed number.”
In 2012, Rocco Constantino of Bleacher Report did indeed rank Sanchez as the best Jets player to ever rep the No. 6. He reasoned: “Four road playoff wins and two AFC championship games already make Sanchez one of the top five quarterbacks in Jets history. [Quarterback] Bubby Brister or [kicker] Doug Brien certainly weren’t going get consideration here.”
Jets WR Mecole Hardman Called Playing Alongside Garrett Wilson & Allen Lazard ‘Attractive’ in Free Agency
Rewinding back to Hardman’s introductory press conference on March 23, the playmaker noted what drew him to the Jets in free agency.
“I think the Jets was a good situation,” Hardman explained. “I think they got a great foundation here and they got some nice pieces. Allen Lazard, him signing, I think playing aside him, and they got a great second-year player now in Garrett Wilson, who had an absolutely unbelievable year. Guys with those names, to play alongside them is attractive.”
He admitted that the potential of Aaron Rodgers was something to think about too, but added that the Jets felt like the “right fit” with or without the future Hall of Fame passer.
“I think being in this offense and going forward, I probably can show people a little bit more than just the quick game or the jet sweep and actually showing a little bit more of the route tree,” Hardman continued, “catching the ball in the middle of the field or some out-breaking routes or stuff like that just to show a little bit more of my game.”
He also noted that returning is still “something that I love to do” if Gang Green asks that of him. “Whenever my number is called, I just want to go out there and do it and just do it the best way I can,” the ex-Chief concluded at the time.