NFL

Chiefs' Mecole Hardman denies leaking game plans to opposing teams while with Jets

A report on Thursday said there was a "validated belief" within the Jets organization that Hardman leaked offensive game plans due to a frustration over lack of usage.

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Mecole Hardman
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FILE - Mecole Hardman Jr. of the Kansas City Chiefs looks on prior to Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on Feb. 11, 2024, in Las Vegas.

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Mecole Hardman has denied accusations that he leaked offensive game plans to opposing teams while he was a member of the New York Jets last season.

Hardman, who was traded from New York to Kansas City midseason, called the allegations "false" in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, Friday.

"There were FALSE accusations made about me and MY CHARACTER! To set the record straight, I have never and would never leak gameplans to another team," Hardman wrote. "I have never been a person to give an opponent an upper hand I always want to win no matter the circumstances!!!!!"

Hardman's post came after SNY's Connor Hughes reported on Thursday that there's a "validated belief" within the Jets organization that Hardman leaked New York's offensive game plans before facing the Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles due to a frustration over lack of usage.

Hardman joined the Jets last offseason on a one-year deal following a four-year run in Kansas City. But Hardman logged just 28 offensive snaps over five games, catching one of three targets for six yards, as he was quickly surpassed on New York's depth chart at both wide receiver and returner by undrafted rookie Xavier Gipson.

The Jets fell to the Chiefs 23-20 in Week 4 and defeated the Eagles 20-14 in Week 6, two of their better showings in the 2023 season. Days after beating Philadelphia, the Jets shipped Hardman, along with a 2025 seventh-round pick, to the Chiefs in exchange for a 2025 sixth-rounder.

Hardman then went on to win his third championship with Kansas City, catching the game-winning touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes in Super Bowl LVIII to defeat the San Francisco 49ers.

During an interview on “The Pivot Podcast” that was released Wednesday, Hardman opened up about his time with the Jets and was critical of the team.

"You just got a new (offensive) coaching staff that came in and there's no standard there," Hardman said, via ESPN's Rich Cimini. "Everybody does what they want to do. Granted, the defense has more of a stabilized standard with the coaching staff on that side, so the defense has a standard. But the offense is just like, 'We'll just figure it out. It's (Aaron Rodgers') show. Let Aaron do what Aaron does.' Then when Aaron goes down, it's like we don't know what to do."

Hardman also said he was “so checked out, like, it was over with” leading into New York's game against Kansas City in Week 4. He added he had already spoken to both Chiefs GM Brett Veach and Mahomes.

"Like, 'come get me,’” Hardman said he told them.

Hardman later tried to clarify those comments on X.

“Never had talks with KC before the trade, so we can CLEAR THAT UP!” Hardman wrote. “The Jets handled my trade on their own and did the right thing by sending me back to KC!”

It was not immediately certain if the Jets would pursue possible tampering charges with the NFL against the Chiefs. Jets general manager Joe Douglas told reporters at the combine Wednesday that Hardman's comments "definitely resonated with us."

In the wake of Hardman's comments, several Jets players seemed to chime in with posts on X Thursday. Star cornerback Sauce Gardner appeared to imply New York's game plan against the Eagles was leaked in a since-deleted post.

"We ain't gon talk about how our offensive gameplan got leaked vs. the Eagles tho," Gardner wrote.

Tight end Kenny Yeboah was asked by a user on X how he felt about Hardman and replied with this since-deleted message: “He’s tripping out, he ain’t talking about his own work ethic and how the Georgia eagles got our game plan.” The Eagles have several defensive players who went to Georgia, which is also Hardman's alma mater.

Punter Thomas Morstead, meanwhile, seemed to take a shot at Hardman in a post about "disgruntled former employees."

"Be careful getting information from disgruntled former employees," Morstead wrote. "Getting beat out by a rookie free agent after being guaranteed millions of dollars is tough to deal with. Entitlement is a killer of opportunity. You have to earn it every year."

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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