Jets eye Hardman’s ‘come get me’ Chiefs talk

NFL

Super Bowl standout Mecole Hardman admitted on a podcast that he was so disgruntled with the New York Jets last season that he begged the Kansas City Chiefs to “come get me” — a remark that isn’t sitting well with Jets brass.

“I’ll just say those comments definitely resonated with us,” general manager Joe Douglas told reporters Wednesday at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.

It’s unclear if the Jets will pursue tampering charges against the Chiefs. An NFL spokesperson, in an email to ESPN, declined to comment on whether the Jets have asked the league to check into the matter.

In a wide-ranging interview on “The Pivot,” hosted by Ryan Clark, Hardman was critical of the Jets’ culture and detailed his issues with the team. He said he was so frustrated by his lack of playing time that by Week 4, a home game against the Chiefs, “I’m telling you right now, I was so checked out, like, it was over with. I had already talked to [Chiefs GM Brett] Veach and Pat [Mahomes], like, ‘Come get me.'”

Two weeks later, he was traded back to the Chiefs. He wound up catching the winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl LVIII.

According to NFL rules, teams aren’t permitted to have contact with another team’s players or coaches. That’s considered tampering and could result in the loss of draft picks.

Hardman, a second-round pick by the Chiefs in 2019, played with them through 2022, winning two Super Bowls. He left as a free agent in 2023, signing a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Jets. He was expected to contribute as the No. 3 or No. 4 receiver, but he barely got on the field (one catch in five games) and he lost his punt returning job to rookie Xavier Gipson.

By Tuesday night, Hardman’s comments from the podcast had gained traction on social media, prompting his reply on X.

“Never had talks with KC before the trade, so we can CLEAR THAT UP!” Hardman said. “The Jets handled my trade on their own and did the right thing by sending me back to KC!”

On the podcast, Hardman said the tipping point was the Chiefs game. He said he refused to return punts because he felt that special teams coordinator Brant Boyer had misled him about the punt returning job in camp, and that he didn’t have enough time to prepare when asked on the night of the Chiefs game to step in for Gipson, who had tweaked an ankle a few days earlier.

Hardman said he was dealing with his own injury (hyperextended pinkie) that made it tough to catch. He said coach Robert Saleh tried to convince him to do it, but Hardman said he told him, “I’m not catching for that man [Boyer].”

He said Boyer made a threatening remark, saying, “I’m going to remember [this].” Recounting the exchange, Hardman laughed, saying there was nothing the Jets could do because he already was “checked out” mentally.

Hardman said he disliked his Jets experience “because of the lies and the way they handled me. I didn’t like it at all.” At least one member of the Jets took umbrage with Hardman’s criticism of the team.

“Be careful getting information from disgruntled former employees,” punter Thomas Morstead said on X. “Getting beat out by a rookie free agent after being guaranteed millions of dollars is tough to deal with. Entitlement is a killer of opportunity. You have to earn it every year.”

Douglas declined to address Hardman’s criticisms.

“I’ll just say, look, we were excited to sign Mecole,” Douglas said. “He was excited to obviously join our team. Xavier Gipson really came on for us this year and he did an outstanding job for us. So, ultimately, we made a decision to move on from Mecole, but our process of adding Mecole, he was excited to be here and it just didn’t work out. And a lot of that has to do with Xavier.”

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