Trade Pitch Swaps Jets WR Mecole Hardman for Browns Pass Catcher

Donovan Peoples-Jones of the Cleveland Browns scores a touchdown in Week 4.

Getty Cleveland Browns wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones reacting in the middle of an NFL game.

A change of scenery could be in the best interest of all parties involved.

That was the thought of Bill Barnwell of ESPN who created 15 trade proposals that NFL teams should ponder ahead of the deadline.

New York Jets receive: wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones

Cleveland Browns receive: wideout Mecole Hardman

DPJ and Hardman are both scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in 2024. Barnwell argued that a straight up swap of disappointing pass catchers could be a nice deal for both squads.

New York Jets Can Take a Dart Throw on a Talented Browns Receiver

Peoples-Jones, 24, was the No. 187 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft.

Through the first three years of his career, the former Michigan product has exponentially gotten better each season.

2020: 14 receptions for 304 receiving yards and scored two touchdowns

2021: 34 catches for 597 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns

2022: 61 receptions for 839 receiving yards and scored three touchdowns

However, for whatever reason things haven’t gotten off to a great start this year. Through the first five games of the season, DPJ only has six catches for 75 yards, and he has yet to score a touchdown.

Barnwell said the talented pass catcher has only been targeted 14 times on 131 routes run this year. That ranks No. 111 out of 114 wideouts in 2023.

DPJ is in the final year of his $3.4 million rookie contract.

The End of the Hardman-Jets Era Is Upon Us

In Barnwell’s proposed deal, the Jets would receive DPJ in exchange for Hardman.

Gang Green had high hopes for the former member of the Kansas City Chiefs, but those have waned over the last handful of months.

So much so that Rich Cimini of ESPN said on the “Flight Deck Podcast” this week that, “He’s going to be gone. They are either going to trade him or cut him. I think they realized that there is no plan for him and that they’re going to try and do him a solid by sending him away to a team where maybe he can get on the field.”

Cimini revealed that Hardman has complained to the team behind the scenes and to him directly about his role.

When head coach Robert Saleh was asked about the situation earlier this week he highlighted undrafted free agent Xavier Gipson.

Saleh confirmed what had become obvious, Gipson stole Hardman’s job and role on the team. It wasn’t expected, Hardman was a prized free agent acquisition and Gipson didn’t even hear his name called during April’s draft.

Although it isn’t about how you got there, but rather what you choose to do with your opportunity. Gipson has wowed the coaching staff behind the scenes and has earned a role on this team moving forward. Saleh promised that role would continue to expand as the season continued.

Hardman has a ton of talent and elite speed, but it sure sounds like he’ll be taking his talents to a new team sooner rather than later.

The Browns would make sense as a landing spot because they showed initial interest in Hardman back during free agency, according to ESPN NFL Insider Jeremy Fowler.

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