With the 2023 NFL trade deadline less than two weeks away on October 31st, the New York Jets aren’t necessarily looking to subtract players from their roster. That doesn’t mean they won’t, however.

If the Jets had continued to freefall after Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles in Week 1, general manager Joe Douglas could have conducted a fire sale. But the Jets stabilized under difficult circumstances, winning two games in a row, including a stunning 20-14 upset over the previously undefeated Philadelphia Eagles in Week 6.

The Jets are 3-3 at their bye week, and they will face a softer portion of their schedule while remaining in the thick of the AFC playoff race. So, if anything, you’d think Douglas and the Jets will look to add at the deadline, perhaps depth to their depleted offensive line or bolster their receiving room.

But the Jets do have two early trade candidates ahead of the 2023 NFL deadline, so let's take a look at them and see how likely they are to get moved.

Mecole Hardman – WR/KR

It’s inexplicable why the Jets have not used their $4 million man more often. Mecole Hardman has game-breaking speed and is a two-time Super Bowl champion who’s viewed as a good teammate. When the Jets signed him, they envisioned getting Hardman the ball on screens, slants, and jet sweeps, anything to take advantage of his explosive world-class speed. He was also considered their offenses' best deep threat.

But Hardman has played only 29 snaps, made one catch on two targets, and was inactive in Week 5 against the Denver Broncos. Coach Robert Saleh hinted that rookie Xavier Gipson passed the 25-year-old on the depth chart, although it's worth noting that an ineffective Randall Cobb (three catches on 12 targets for 20 yards) starts and plays the majority of snaps at slot receiver ahead of both Gipson and Hardman.

Hardman respectfully acknowledged that a trade might be best. And Hardman trade rumors have accelerated the past couple of weeks.

Yet, Douglas must take pause before a final decision is made to move Hardman. Consider that Gipson was hobbled against the Eagles with a bad ankle. And Cobb — though a respected voice in the locker room — continues to be a ghost in the passing game.

Unless there’s something the Jets know that we don’t about Hardman’s effort or grasp of the playbook, they should think twice about a trade. However, a Hardman trade does seem inevitable, with the Kansas City Chiefs standing out as likely frontrunners to land him.

Carl Lawson – DE

Signed three years ago to a hefty free agent contract, Carl Lawson is probably, at best, the fourth option on the Jets depth chart at defensive end. Injuries are a big reason why.

Lawson missed the 2021 season with a torn Achilles but was effective last season with eight sacks and 43 QB pressures in 17 games. However, this season has been a major regression (no sacks, two pressures in 43 pass-rushing snaps). A bad back slowed Lawson in training camp, he lost his starting job, and he has been inactive in two of New York’s first six games this season.

Worse for Lawson is that second-year pro Jermaine Johnson has had a breakout season so far. Johnson is an effective pass rusher and is strong against the run, making him an every-down player. Johnson has also stepped up to make a string of big plays, forcing two interceptions with timely hits against the Eagles.

Bryce Huff is an absolute stud pass rusher, having turned into one of the best in the NFL this season. He’s also passed Lawson on the depth chart. And New York also has first-round pick Will McDonald IV, Micheal Clemons, and starting left end John Franklin-Myers.

Knowing the Jets rotate heavily on the defensive line during games, and how much Saleh values quality D-line depth, they could choose to hang on to Lawson. That’s especially so if they know he’s getting healthier and because McDonald has been overmatched so far in his rookie season.

Still, a Lawson trade feels likely. It’s unfortunate but it could be best to trade Lawson and get at least a Day 3 draft pick for him, as he’s set to hit free agency again this upcoming offseason.