The Jets’ Wide Receiver Saga Continues: Elijah Moore and Mecole Hardman Become the Latest Characters in the Aaron Rodgers Chronicles
Image Credit: Joshua Sarner/Icon Sportswire. Pictured: Elijah Moore.

On Wednesday, the Jets made a series of offseason transactions, including signing Mecole Hardman to a one-year contract. They also traded away their former 2021 second-round pick Elijah Moore and a 2023 third-rounder to the Browns for a second-round selection in 2023.

After also signing Allen Lazard, the Jets wide receiver room has undergone a near-complete overhaul. Hardman and Lazard add to the depth around Garrett Wilson and Breece Hall. With players changing teams, we’ll look at the team context, player skills, and how they might fit in their new offense moving forward. Is the move an upgrade or downgrade for Hardman and Moore? Will Moore bounce back after a disappointing Year 2?

The New (Kind of) Jets’ Offense

Hardman played with one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. Now, he moves to a team with question marks at quarterback. While it hasn’t been official, Aaron Rodgers intends to play for the Jets and is potentially one of the next off-season transactions. Assuming that’s the case, it would be an upgrade for Wilson and Hall. Lazard was one of Rodgers’ more efficient targets and hopes to continue his streak of positive-FPOE seasons. Hardman goes from the best passer in the league to a brand new offense with quarterback in the twilight of his career. He has game-breaking speed, but earned limited volume behind Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, and other players. Though Hardman hasn’t performed as a reliable weekly option, he posted efficient metrics with 3.2 FPOE/G (No. 8), which bested his rookie season of 3.1 (No. 10).

How Does Mecole Hardman Fit On The Jets?

The range of outcomes for Hardman with Rodgers or Zach Wilson at quarterback remains wide. Though the Jets have the 13th overall pick in 2023, one of the top four quarterbacks likely won’t be available. Last season, the Jets tied for sixth in pass rate (62%) and finished near the middle of the league in plays per 60 minutes.

When we look at the splits before Hall’s injury (Weeks 1-7), the Jets’ pass rate and rush rate remained the same (61% to 39%). Interestingly, they averaged 68 plays per minute — two more than the season-long numbers and tied for sixth — with Hall in the lineup. After losing Hall to a season-ending injury, the Pass% increased to 63%, with a slight dip in Rush% at 37%. Unsurprisingly, the Jets also ran 64 plays per 60 minutes (No. 17) from Weeks 8 to 18, as they lost one of their top offensive weapons.

How Would Rodgers Change Things?

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