NFL Free Agency Primer: Mecole Hardman

The regular season has come to a close, and most teams have already begun the complicated process of preparing for the 2023 season. In the coming months, we'll be covering the impending free agents most capable of shifting the balance of power in the NFL.

The Player: Mecole Hardman

Wide receiver Meccole Hardman got lost in the shuffle after a promising start to the 2022 season for the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs. Hardman averaged 37.1 receiving yards per game and totalled six touchdowns over the first eight games of the season, but injuries and the acquisition of Kadarius Toney cost him crucial snaps at the end of the year. Since being drafted in the second round of the 2019 NFL Draft, he has tallied 2213 yards from scrimmage and 18 touchdowns. Hardman never transformed into a superstar for the Chiefs despite elite physical tools, but his best days may still be ahead of him.

The Fit:

Hardman is an undersized wide receiver with blazing speed and a willingness to do some dirty work inside as well as in the run game. It's possible the Chiefs depth did him a disservice; fellow one-time Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill exploded for a career-high 100.6 receiving yards per game after joining the Miami Dolphins last year. Hardman never approached the highs on the Chiefs that Hill did, but he can still frighten opposing defenses as a fleet-footed decoy or slot receiver. 

The Cost:

Hardman is only 24 years old and has incredible 4.33 speed working for him. His production has been modest, but he has traits and potential that simply can't be taught. If a team falls in love with his skillset, he could fetch a deal as high as the three-year, $30 million contract the Chiefs handed similar speedster Marquez-Valdes Scantling in 2022. More likely, he'll have to settle for something a little bit closer to New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne's three-year, $15 million pact.

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