Mecole Hardman is headed to NFL free agency again this offseason, hoping he has a better experience than his failed stint with the New York Jets last season.

The speedy wide receiver signed a one-year, $4 million contract with the Jets last March. The expectation was that he’d be given plenty of opportunity to run the complete route tree and thrive playing a key role alongside stud receiver Garrett Wilson.

That vision never played out. And Hardman placed the blame directly on Jets offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett during an interview this week on The Pivot Podcast.

“I just feel like it’s not [an] established coaching staff there,” Hardman said. “You just got a new coaching staff that came in, you know, and like it’s no standard there. It’s like everybody do what they want to do.

“But it’s that same coach (Hackett) that was just out of a job the previous year and managed to get a new job. So, I just feel like it follows and I see what’s going on.”

Hardman was referring to Hackett being fired during his first season as coach of the Denver Broncos in 2022. Hackett was then scooped up by the Jets to replace Mike LaFleur as offensive coordinator last season. And that didn’t exactly go well.

Mecole Hardman says Nathaniel Hackett had no plan for Jets after Aaron Rodgers injury in 2023

New York Jets wide receiver Mecole Hardman Jr. (6) runs with the ball with pressure from Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Keenan Isaac (16) in the first half of a preseason NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in East Rutherford.
Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Jets were at the bottom of the League in nearly every offensive category in 2023. Hackett had no answers for a myriad of Jets problems on offense, most notably when Zach Wilson replaced Aaron Rodgers at quarterback, when the future Hall of Famer sustained a ruptured Achilles in the opening game.

“Granted, the defense had more of a stabilized standard with the coaching staff on that side,” Hardman explained. “So, you could tell the defense got a standard, but the offense is just like alright we’ll just figure it out, it’s the Aaron (Rodgers) Show. Let Aaron do what Aaron do. But then when Aaron goes down, it's like we don’t know what to do.”

As the Jets struggled to do anything offensively, Hardman was left out of the picture. He dressed for four of the first six games, played 23 snaps, was targeted on two passes, and had one catch for six yards. It was a stunning lack of usage for a two-time Super Bowl champion at the time who’d been signed to give the Jets offense a major jolt.

“I ain’t trying to bash anybody like that, but it’s like y’all treat certain guys that shouldn’t be treated like they treated and I don’t understand where y’all feel like that I don’t compare or I can’t compete with any of these guys that you trying to play in front of me,” he said.

Mecole Hardman got the last laugh, of course. He was traded to the Chiefs and caught the winning touchdown in overtime from Patrick Mahomes. That would be three rings now for Hardman, or two more than the Jets have since winning Super Bowl III in 1969.