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Gang Green Gives Receivers' Room Off-season Makeover

The Jets have added two wide receivers through free agency, traded one away and released another
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The New York Jets' new starting quarterback will be working with a remade receiving corps in 2023.

With Aaron Rodgers presumably on the way once a trade agreement is reached, Jets' general manager Joe Douglas has been actively shopping the wide receiver market.

First, Gang Green bid farewell to Braxton Berrios, releasing the veteran who subsequently signed with the Miami Dolphins.

Then, Jets' brass reeled in free agent Allen Lazard, who led the Green Bay Packers in receiving last season.

Next, with the NFL's new league year officially one week old, Douglas and Co. turned a double play on March 22.

In the first of two reported moves, the Jets agreed to terms with two-time Super Bowl champion Mecole Hardman.

Shortly after securing the former Kansas City Chiefs' receiver in free agency, Gang Green reportedly traded 2021 second-round draft pick Elijah Moore to the Cleveland Browns in a deal that also involved the swapping of draft capital.

The signing of Lazard provides the Jets with a proven WR2 option behind emerging star Garrett Wilson. The 6-foot-5 target, who made no fewer than 33 catches each of the past four seasons, led all Green Bay pass-catchers in receptions (60) and receiving yards (788) in 2022.

Allen Lazard and Aaron Rodgers at Lambeau Field in 2022

Aaron Rodgers (12) and Allen Lazard (13)

“I think, objectively, a lot of people can look at Allen Lazard and go ‘He’s a really good player. We would love to have him on our team,’” said Rodgers during his March 15 appearance on the Pat McAfee Show.

Rodgers continued, “Then, anybody with a brain would maybe call me and go, ‘Hey, what kind of locker room guy is Allen Lazard? What’s his work ethic like?’ and I’d say, ‘He’s a [expletive] great dude! Anybody would be lucky to have him in the locker room.’”

Over 57 career regular season games with Green Bay, Lazard, who boasts a wide catch radius, caught 169 passes for 2,236 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The Hardman acquisition brings elite speed and big-game experience to Gang Green's receivers' room. The 5-foot-10 fifth-year pro, who ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash at the 2019 NFL Combine, has participated in the playoffs each of the first four seasons in the league.

The explosive Hardman burst onto the scene as a rookie, contributing to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV run. Amassing 1,426 all-purpose yards en-route to earning a Pro Bowl nod as a return specialist, Hardman averaged an eye-popping 20.7 yards reception and scored seven touchdowns in 2019.

After exceeding the 500-yard receiving mark in each of his first three NFL seasons, the 5-foot-10 Hardman saw his production dip in 2022 due to an injury that required offseason surgery.

Hardman addressed his recovery timeline during his Jets’ introductory press conference on March 23.

“I’m definitely on the right track. Probably ahead of schedule right now as we speak,” said Hardman. “Hopefully I’ll be fully healthy before OTAs even start.”

Chiefs' WR Mecole Hardman after the AFC Championship Game

Mecole Hardman

Hardman’s speed lessened the need for Moore, who experienced a disappointing 2022 campaign with Gang Green. 

The disruptive Moore reportedly requested a trade midway through October. The former second-round draft pick, who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, scored only one touchdown in 16 games last year.

The Jets' receiving corps had already featured one of the league's most-exciting young weapons in Wilson. En-route to the 2022 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award, the 6-foot Wilson made 83 grabs for 1,103 yards while starting all 17 contests.

In the midst of the free agent activity, the Jets also non-tendered Jeff Smith, and the reserve receiver, who played primarily on special teams, landed with the New York Giants.

With former Jets’ free-agent signing Corey Davis rumored to be traded or released in the near future, here's what Gang Green's receiving corps could look like in 2023 come Week 1...

WR1 Garrett Wilson (2nd Season)

WR2 Allen Lazard (FA Addition)

WR3 Mecole Hardman (FA Addition)

WR4 Denzel Mims (4th Season)

WR5 2023 Draft Pick

WR6 Diontae Spencer (2022 Practice Squad)

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