Jets Trade Elijah Moore to Browns, Sign Mecole Hardman

Browns WR Elijah Moore
Browns WR Elijah Moore
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

NFL Offseason - The New York Jets scrambled their wide receiver corps today. First they signed Mecole Hardman, formerly of Kansas City, to a one-year contract, details not yet disclosed. Then the Jets traded Elijah Moore, their primary slot receiver, to the Cleveland Browns. The Browns will get Moore and a third-round pick (74) while the Jets get Cleveland's second-round pick (42).

Hardman is a speed merchant who was in and out of the lineup with injuries in 2022. He ended up with 97 receiving DYAR, his fourth season between 90 and 181 DYAR. In regular terms, he had 25 catches for 297 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Moore was a second-round pick in 2021 but hasn't lived up to his draft status yet. Last year he ranked 76th among qualifying receivers with -16 DYAR (37 catches, 450 yards, 1 touchdown). The issue isn't just underperformance in terms of yards -- which can be partly blamed on the Jets quarterbacks -- but underperformance in terms of targets.

On the other hand...

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9 comments, Last at 27 Mar 2023, 2:16pm

#1 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 22, 2023 - 8:39pm

Nice 2 for 1 extra point! 

Target rate is a good, underrated proxy (yeah Davante gets all the targets because he's great) but the Jets offense was a mess last year between, as Bill pointed out, so many bad QBs.

IDK, all his problems seemed to be gone (OC fired, Zach replacement coming). Replacing Moore with similar Mecole while paying (>$4m) more for someone older doesn't seem patient enough imo. Just another new body that has to get used to things as well. 

Not bad compensation just too impatient. 

Points: 1

#4 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 22, 2023 - 11:51pm

I imagine it he'd want the younger, cheaper Moore instead of relying on them using up cap space on someone similar with less experience in such an environment.

With that said the Jets are looking into OBJ. 3 for 1 extra point.

Points: 0

#8 by mehllageman56 // Mar 25, 2023 - 6:31pm

Moore bailed on plays when he knew he wasn't being targeted.  There's a Wilson interception against the Steelers that is a prime example; Moore basically led his corner to where the ball was going.  Rodgers would have wanted to kill Elijah for that.  

You're correct that signing Mecole over keeping Moore is a waste of some cap space, but Moore was going to need to be traded eventually.  He wants to be a #1 guy, and that wasn't happening with Wilson around.  Denzel Mims has some of the same gripes but behaved himself on the field and the locker room, and his skill doesn't duplicated Wilson, so I hope the team keeps him around.

Points: 1

#9 by ImNewAroundThe… // Mar 27, 2023 - 2:16pm

I'd be willing to forgive him for playing w/Zach Wilson and a now fired OC. Not sure he'll be WR1 w/Amari Cooper. I would miss his skillset to price ratio and be disappointed in his replacement with Mecole. 

Regardless, you feel better about the 47th/81 OTs staying outside instead of moving Ikem inside? Gotta cut out some penalties but hes yet to fail outside, as I suggested they start this way. 

Points: 0

#2 by Theo // Mar 22, 2023 - 10:34pm

Do slot receivers on average get targeted more, or less when their QB is bad?

My question is basically if your target rate as a slot receiver goes up or down when you have a bad, instead of a good, QB throwing. 

Points: 1

#6 by fyo // Mar 23, 2023 - 9:57am

I'm not convinced of the underlying assumption that all bad QBs are bad in the same way. You can have a bad QB who just dink-n-dunks regardless of what is offered by the defense. Slot receivers typically run more short and quick-developing routes, so they could see a lot of targets with such a quarterback.

On the other hand, you also have the bad QBs who just have way, way too many off-target throws (like Josh Allen before he suddenly figured out how to hit the barn door). In order to get to the position of starting NFL games as an inaccurate passer, the QB would need some other talents - typically arm strength and/or extreme mobility. Those quarterbacks would seem unlikely to favor slot receivers at the expense of wideouts.

If you look closer at the example from this article, Zach Wilson, he had one of the highest average depth of target in the league last year. His difference between avg depth of target and avg depth of completion was among the highest as well, however, reinforcing that he wasn't completing those deep throws. He also featured in the top 3 in time-to-throw, which again indicates a quarterback who is likely looking to throw deep.

Contrast that with the other NYJ quarterbacks (Flacco/White) who got rid of the ball much, much quicker, threw shorter, and completed more of their passes. They were certainly still very bad quarterbacks, but they were a different kind of bad.

Did Moore then get a lower share of the targets with Wilson compared to Flacco & White? Yes, he did, but we're looking at statistics on relatively few games and a single opponent with a different defensive scheme could conceivably shift the numbers significantly, so I wouldn't put too much weight on them. For reference, Moore saw a target share of 11.7% with Flacco, 11.8% with White, and 8.7% with Wilson.


Points: 5

#7 by herewegobrowni… // Mar 24, 2023 - 6:26pm

This comparison of "different types of bad QBs" almost exactly encapsulates the B.Hoyer/J.Campbell/Weeden trifecta in 2013 (Hoyer a straight dink-and-dunk guy who connected well with Jordan Cameron and Taylor Gabriel-his own Gronk/Edelman- but generally terribly with Josh Gordon; Weeden the exact opposite, being able to give Gordon some massive gains off of soft zones; and Campbell being a mix of both's goods and bads.)

Points: 2

#5 by Aaron Brooks G… // Mar 23, 2023 - 8:07am

Kiss the playoffs goodbye, Mecole.

Points: 0

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