Chiefs 5-Year Vet Not Expected to Re-Sign: ‘Hard to See a Role for Him’

The Kansas City Chiefs still have several free agents that are available on the open market. One of those players is wide receiver/returner Mecole Hardman — a former second-round selection who has spent parts of all five of his NFL seasons in KC.

Mecole Hardman accused of allegedly leaking Jets game plans to opponents |  Yardbarker

Hardman has been a member of each of Andy Reid’s Super Bowl teams to some extent and has three rings to show for it. In fact, outside of a brief stint with the New York Jets to begin the 2023 campaign, the 26-year-old playmaker has never played for another organization since entering the league in 2019. He has appeared in 77 total games for Kansas City (including playoffs).

Having said that, Arrowhead Pride analyst Mark Gunnels expects Hardman’s five-year run of Chiefs contributions to end in 2024.

“With the Hollywood Brown addition, I would be surprised if the Chiefs brought Hardman back,” Gunnels stated candidly during the March 26 edition of his weekly column, “Let’s Argue.” Adding: “It’s just hard to see a role for him at this point.”

Gunnels shared this opinion after a fan voiced that Kansas City should re-sign both Hardman and veteran left tackle Donovan Smith.

“Hollywood will provide that deep ball threat this team has missed since trading away Tyreek Hill,” Gunnels explained. “As mentioned above, it’s also likely the Chiefs use one of their first two picks at receiver.”

Chiefs WRs Skyy Moore & Kadarius Toney Are Blocking Mecole Hardman’s Path to a Reunion

The Brown addition makes Hardman somewhat redundant as Gunnels alluded, but that’s only because the Chiefs already have Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney clogging up roster spots. The Arrowhead Pride writer believes that Moore and Toney are more likely to stick around than Hardman — considering upside and contract.

“As much as fans want Skyy Moore gone, it’s very unlikely the Chiefs will give up on their second-round pick after two seasons,” Gunnels reasoned. He also called it “unlikely” that KC replaces Toney with Hardman.

The Chiefs could shed Toney’s $2.53 million-plus cap hit if they were to find a trade partner sometime this offseason. If not, releasing him would cost them the same amount (approximately $2.53 million).

Barring some sort of releasable offense, it feels like both Moore and Toney will get one final opportunity with KC in 2024. As for Smith, Gunnels replied that he “wouldn’t be opposed to bringing [the LT] back on a team-friendly one-year deal to compete with Wanya Morris.”

Could Chiefs Bring Back Former First-Round RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire?

For the past year or so, it’s felt like 2020 first rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire would eventually leave Kansas City after losing his starting job to current running back Isiah Pacheco. Gunnels even predicted his departure back on February 24.

Although a CEH exit is certainly still on the table, the 2024 free agent doesn’t feel like as much of a guarantee to sign elsewhere as he once did. After all, the Chiefs still need a backup running back and Edwards-Helaire does not seem to have much of a market around the league.

“I’d be fine with CEH coming back,” one KC supporter argued during the March 26 article.

To which Gunnels responded: “At this point, why not? The running back market has dried up. Is there anyone out there that you can confidently say would be a better fit as RB2?”

He concluded that “even if you think someone is better, the small gap is made up because Edwards-Helaire is most likely younger, and he has familiarity with the system.”

Veteran RB Jerick McKinnon is in a similar boat as CEH, and it would not be shocking if one of the two free agents — or both — returned to fill-in behind Pacheco for one more run at a Super Bowl.

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