Steelers Urged to Acquire 2-Time Super Bowl Champion Wide Receiver

Mecole Hardman

Getty Bleacher Report's NFL staff argued that the Pittsburgh Steelers should trade for wide receiver Mecole Hardman.

The Pittsburgh Steelers could get back two pass catchers for the Week 7 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. But Bleacher Report’s NFL staff still argued the Steelers should acquire New York Jets wide receiver Mecole Hardman before the league’s trade deadline.

“Trading for Mecole Hardman would give [Kenny] Pickett a speedster who can stretch the field across from George Pickens,” wrote BR’s NFL staff. “Diontae Johnson’s potential return in Week 7 gives him a slot specialist who can work underneath and intermediate routes.”

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported on October 10 that the Jets are “looking at options, including a potential trade” for Hardman.

The 25-year-old played in Week 6 after being a healthy scratch during Week 5. But he didn’t catch either of his 2 targets.

Hardman signed a 1-year, $4 million deal with the Jets before the 2023 season. He began his career with the Kansas City Chiefs, where he helped the team win the Super Bowl during the 2019 and 2022 seasons.

Mecole Hardman Another Potential Pass Catcher for Steelers QB Kenny Pickett

Steelers fans expected the team to make major strides on offense this season, especially after a stellar preseason performance from quarterback Kenny Pickett.

The offense has been very disappointing through the five five games. But the Steelers sit at 3-2, which is half a game out of first place.

Bleacher Report, though, argued the Steelers don’t have to make the playoffs to have a successful 2023 season.

“Even if the Steelers don’t end up competing for a playoff spot, this season will be successful if they can come away with clarity at the quarterback spot,” BR’s NFL staff wrote. “They need to find out if Kenny Pickett is worth the continued investment or if they need to make a move next season. Part of that is giving the quarterback what he needs to succeed.”

Trading for Hardman would give Pickett a pass catcher who has averaged 13.8 yards per catch in his career. Hardman posted a career-best 20.7 yards per reception average as a rookie in 2019.

This season with the Jets, the 25-year-old wideout hasn’t gelled with quarterback Zach Wilson. He has 1 catch for 6 yards.

His 2 targets in Week 6 were his first ones since Week 2.

Hardman played a season-high 14 snaps in Week 2 versus the Dallas Cowboys. Since then, he’s played 14 more snaps in three contests.

Steelers WR Core Heading Into Week 7

No offense is going to turn down a receiver who averages more than 20 yards per catch.

However, Hardman hasn’t posted more than 13.7 yards per reception since his rookie season. Since 2020, he’s averaged 12.3 yards per catch.

The Steelers already have a deep threat in George Pickens, who has 22 receptions, 393 yards and 2 touchdowns this season. He’s averaging 17.9 yards per catch.

Hardman and Pickens could be a lethal combination. But if the Steelers offense gets going, so could Pickens and Calvin Austin III.

Austin caught a 72-yard touchdown against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 3. He has 12 receptions and 143 yards this season.

Johnson and tight end Pat Freiermuth are expected to return in Week 7. They should be the “possession” pass catchers for the Steelers offense while Pickens and Austin are the big-play threats.

Hardman could potentially give opposing defenses another deep-threat receiver to be concerned about, but there’s also a chance he might not be that involved.

Furthermore, Hardman is set to be a free agent at the end of the season. Unless the Steelers suddenly become the clear-cut favorites in the AFC North, they aren’t likely to give up draft picks for a player who isn’t guaranteed to be on the roster beyond this season.

The Steeler may be interested in Hardman if they could acquire him for a very late Day 3 selection. Even so, the team is probably better off trying to generate more offense with the players already on the roster.

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