Chiefs place WR Mecole Hardman on IR

NOVEMBER 18: The head coach Andy Reid said Hardman’s IR stint is considered “short-term,” as opposed to the end of the season (Twitter link via Herbie Teope of the Kansas City Star). This will be good news for the Chiefs as they look to get back to health in the skill positions late in the regular season.

NOVEMBER 17: Mecole HardmanThe absence will last for at least five games. After missing the Chiefs’ Week 10 game against the Jaguars, the fourth-year wide receiver is now on IR.

An abdominal injury will sideline Hardman, who has made key contributions to AFC West’s perennial stalwarts this season. He can come back at week 15.

The Chiefs have made a number of receiver changes this year; Hardman resided as the one constant. Kansas City Traded Tyreek Hill and let Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle walk in free agency. The team signed Ju Ju Smith Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling and written Skyy Moore in Round 2. Former Giants first-round pick Kadarius Toney is now part of the team, with the Chiefs having traded third- and sixth-round picks to land the Mercurial speedster.

Hardman, 24, arrived as a second-round pick during a window in which it was far from certain Hill would play for the Chiefs again. Hill has actually returned from his second major scandal. With the world-class speed merchant in the fold, Hardman delivered three inconsistent first seasons. This year, however, the backup playmaker has six touchdowns in eight games; he scored three against the 49ers in Week 7. Hardman had 328 scrimmage yards in his contract year.

This injury dulls Hardman’s momentum; his return at the end of the season is important for his long-term prospects. As this year’s flurry of receiver trades have shown, next year’s free agent market isn’t exactly brimming with top-notch talent. Smith Schuster, Allen Lazard, Jakobi Meyers and Paris-Campbell are on track to be the best names available. A lighter deal would give Hardman, who has a Pro Bowl nod on his resume, a chance to score a good payday. How the Georgia alum ends his contract year will help cement his value.

The Chiefs are also doubtful of having Smith-Schuster in Week 11. Their leading wide receiver suffered a concussion after a collision above middle against Jacksonville. Kansas City without Hardman and Smith-Schuster would give Toney, who has suffered numerous injuries during his short professional career, a bigger role in his third game as leader. Toney had 90 scrimmage yards and a touchdown in Week 10.

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