Should Eagles trade for Jets WR Mecole Hardman?

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PHILADELPHIA, PA – OCTOBER 14: Eagles General Manager Howie Roseman is pictured prior to the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Philadelphia Eagles on October 14, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles have one of the most potent one-two combinations at wide receiver in the NFL. A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith already seem destined to earn an all-expenses-paid trip to the Pro Bowl in 2023.

Eagles have a great receiving corps, but it could be better

The problem at the position has been in the slot. Quez Watkins broke training camp as the third starter, but a lingering hamstring injury has limited his production. Then, Watkins completely botched a route during Sunday’s 23-14 win over the Los Angeles Rams — an inexcusable error that drew visible and animated frustration from head coach Nick Sirianni.

Watkins was targeted three times on 52 offensive snaps last week. He was on the field for 66 percent of the plays and finished with two catches for four yards. Meanwhile, Olamide Zaccheaus saw zero targets on only nine snaps in Week 5 as the coaching staff chose to feature Watkins in the slot.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – SEPTEMBER 19: Philadelphia Eagles WR Quez Watkins (16) carries the ball in the first half during the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Philadelphia Eagles on September 19, 2021 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire)

Zaccheaus — three catches for 69 yards plus a touchdown through five games — was coming off back-to-back starts in place of his injured teammate. Watkins has four catches for 21 yards so far this season. It’s going to be a feel thing between Watkins and Zaccheaus, according to Sirianni.

“That’s a game-by-game decision,” Sirianni told reporters. “Again, very pleased with OZ and the things that he can do. And obviously like I said, Quez’s speed is something, that the defenses have to account for, and I’m sure glad we have him back playing football.

“What can’t ever show up on a stat sheet with Quez is his ability to stretch the field. His speed is real. And so, there’s a lot of things that happen where maybe it’s a slant that A.J. [Brown] catches where Quez clears the middle to make it a cleaner throw. So Quez’s speed brings a real factor.”

Mecole Hardman on the Trading Block: Report

If the Eagles wanted to upgrade at slot receiver then they should look no further than up the New Jersey Turnpike. The New York Jets are talking about trading Mecole Hardman, per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The one-time burner for the Kansas City Chiefs inked a $4 million deal in free agency yet the Jets have kept him off the field in consecutive weeks. Hardman, a second-round pick in 2019, has just one catch for six yards in four games.

So, why aren’t the Jets using the dual-threat speedster who ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine? Well, no one seems to have the answer to that question which has drawn bizarre rationale from the coaching staff there.

Jason Kelce eagles
Philadelphia Eagles’ Brandon Graham, Lane Johnson, Howie Roseman, Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce celebrate after the NFC Championship NFL football game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2023, in Philadelphia. Roseman, the once-exiled executive who was cast aside for Chip Kelly for a year, returned to lead the Eagles to the franchise’s only Super Bowl title is back again after hitting rock bottom in 2020. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

“You would love to find ways to utilize his speed, but at the same time, there’s a lot of guys we’re trying to get on the field,” head coach Robert Saleh said, via Jets Country. “We tried to get him out there early against New England, but it didn’t go the way we wanted to, and the game kind of goes in a different direction.”

Hardman has proven to be an explosive returner, too, including a 104-yard kickoff return for a touchdown while playing for the Chiefs in 2019. The 5-foot-10, 187-pounder could push Britain Covey for the job in Philly. Hardman has returned 62 punts for 555 yards, plus 39 kickoffs for 927 yards with two total touchdowns. He is a legitimate weapon on special teams.

Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire