Jets $11.6 Million Benching vs. Broncos Sparks Trade Speculation: Insider

Robert Saleh, Jets

Getty New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh reacting after an NFL game.

The New York Jets made a pair of big money veterans inactive ahead of the Week 5 Denver Broncos game.

Gang Green announced on social media that wide receiver Mecole Hardman and pass rusher Carl Lawson were healthy scratches on Sunday October 8.

Rich Cimini of ESPN noted on X previously Twitter that the combined guaranteed money on the bench between those two players is “11.6 million.” He also added that, “Have to figure they will [both] be available as the Oct. 31 trading deadline approaches.”

It Might Be Time for the Jets to Move on From Hardman, Lawson

The Jets signed Hardman to a one-year deal for $4 million this offseason. Shortly after he was signed Cimini reported that one of the reasons he signed on the dotted line was “in part, because they promised he’d be able to expand his route tree in their offense.”

With the Chiefs he was used as a gadget player with jet sweeps and things of that nature as opposed to a full route tree like other receivers.

Despite those promises, things haven’t worked out that way at all.

Through the first five games of the season, the former Georgia product has only appeared in 22 snaps on offense, per Cimini. Last week versus the Kansas City Chiefs, Cimini said he was the only skill position player that didn’t get a touch.

For some reason the Jets’ initial plan with Hardman back during free agency hasn’t translated to the season and it might be time to part ways.

The other confounding issue is with Lawson.

The former Auburn product was originally scheduled to make a non-guaranteed $15 million in the final year of his contract in 2023. However, the Jets renegotiated his deal.

The good news is he took a $6 million pay cut, but the bad news is he received $8 million of the new $9 million contract he was owed in guarantees.

Rich Cimini said on October 8 that it “looks bad now” but they had no idea that he would end up having a back injury this offseason that has plagued him.

While Lawson has been dealing with a back issue, Cimini said that wasn’t the reason he was inactive versus the Broncos.

Lawson told Cimini that he felt “great” this week and that his body has “finally returned to me.” Cimini said that him being a “healthy scratch” indicates that he has fallen to the “bottom” of the defensive line depth chart.

If You Ain’t Using Them, You Might as Well Deal Them

The Jets straight up aren’t utilizing Hardman so they might as well flip him to someone who will. Gang Green seems to like other players on the roster and on the practice squad.

For instance, against the Broncos in Week 5 the Jets made Hardman a healthy scratch but elevated wideout Irvin Charles from the practice squad for the game.

Lawson at this point in the 2023 season is simply stealing reps away from other players that deserve it.

The Jets invested the No. 15 overall pick into Will McDonald. Bryce Huff has been a man possesses so far this season. Jermaine Johnson has made a tremendous leap. Beyond those players the team has incredible depth and routinely trots out between 9 and 10 defensive linemen on a week-to-week basis.

What could the Jets get for Hardman and Lawson? Don’t expect much if you’re to believe Jets analyst Joe Caporoso.

He posted on X previously Twitter that those players, “Well be tough market for both, especially Lawson. Late day 3 conditionals at best.”

Day three of the draft means a pick somewhere between the fourth and seventh round range.


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