Why Mecole Hardman is a good fit for the Cleveland Browns
So far in free agency, the Cleveland Browns have focused heavily on improving their defense. This is very justified considering how poorly that side of the ball played in 2022. That being said, the offense could use some upgrades too, particularly at wide receiver.
Amari Cooper and Donovan Peoples-Jones enjoyed nice seasons in 2022. However, in this pass happy league they are simply not enough to get the job done in most games. The Browns desperately need a speedy guy who can stretch the field and take the top off of the defense. They were hoping that Anthony Schwartz would be that guy, but he has been a disappointment at this point.
The wide reciever free agency market is not super impressive this year, but Mecole Hardman is an intriguing fit for the Browns. Coming off his third Super Bowl appearance and second win with the Kansas City Chiefs, Hardman can bring playoff experience to a young Cleveland team, along with 4.3 speed.
Mecole Hardman's background
Drafted in 2019 in the second round, Hardman has compiled 151 catches for 2,088 yards and 20 touchdowns since his rookie year. His career high came in 2021 when he hauled in 59 passes for 693 yards. He isn't a guy that will catch 100 passes and go to a Pro Bowl, but he is an outstanding role player that can open up space with speedy routes so guys like Amari Cooper, Peoples-Jones, and David Bell can thrive.
In addition to his regualr season stats, Hardman has also played well in the playoffs. He has 22 catches for 226 yards and 3 touchdowns in 10 postseason games. That experience will go a long way in the wide receiver room and with the offense as a whole.
Cleveland already signed safety Juan Thornhill from the Chiefs, so having more Super Bowl-winning players on your roster can only help. Thornhill has already been recruiting Hardman on Twitter as well.
Deshaun Watson simply needs all the weapons he can get if the Browns want to make a deep playoff run in 2023. Hardman would be a nice piece in an already talented wide receiver room and one of the best parts is that he would not cost a lot of money.
They could either sign him for a one-year deal or a three-year deal, each of which would cost somewhere in the $7m-9m a year range. With the Browns cap space situation, this would be the best case scenario if they do not want to do any additional restructures.