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Contextualizing the Mecole Hardman contract: Was it fair value?

NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, the New York Jets and wide receiver Mecole Hardman agreed to a one-year, 6.5 million dollar contract.

The deal was met by mixed reviews by Jets fans, as most deals are. In an attempt to ascertain the degree to which the deal was good, bad, or ugly for the Jets, I will dive into Hardman’s ProFootballFocus (PFF) grades as well as the contract values of other players who play his position. An important note, Hardman did not have enough reps to qualify for an official PFF rank, so the ranks shown below are where his raw scores would have ranked had he had enough snaps to qualify.

2022 PFF grades (rank in parentheses)

  • Overall grade: 68.2 (54th)
  • Running grade: 70.6 (5th)
  • Receiving grade: 66.5 (65th)
  • Run blocking grade: 60.4 (31st)

Contract values within position (wide receiver)

Hardman received a one year deal for 6.5 million dollars with an average annual value (AAV) of 6.5 million dollars. Other active players who have received between 5 and 8 million dollars on their AAV (and are not on a rookie deal) include:

  • Zay Jones (Jacksonville Jaguars): PFF grade of 66.5 in 2022
  • Robert Woods (Houston Texans): PFF grade of 68.0 in 2022
  • Cedrick Wilson Jr. (Miami Dolphins): PFF grade of 64.3 in 2022 (but did not have enough snaps to qualify for an official grade)
  • Marvin Jones (Jacksonville Jaguars): PFF grade of 59.8 in 2022
  • Darius Slayton (New York Giants): PFF grade of 66.0 in 2022
  • Kendrick Bourne (New England Patriots): PFF grade of 63.6 in 2022

My Takeaways

According to PFF, Mecole Hardman was a pretty decent wide receiver overall who was very good specifically when given the ball on running plays. His contract sees perfectly aligned with his performance based on PFF’s grading system.

Overall, Hardman’s contract seems extremely fair based on his recent performance. Beyond that, an optimistic Jets fan could point to his potentially exception rushing ability and his strong run blocking grade as rationale as to why a new scheme may allow Hardman to outperform his performance to date. Given that the Jets did not pay for that potential, I would personally evaluate the signing as rather team friendly.