By Jack Johnson, Sports Radio 810 contributor
When looking up the term, ‘Make or break’, the definition is direct. Someone or
something is a deciding factor in success or failure. In the case of the Kansas City
Chiefs, there are certainly players or coaches that dictate the success of the
organization (i.e. Andy Reid, Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Tyrann
Mathieu). To be short, those players have massive implications on the direction of the
However, other players on the roster offer a hand in contribution. How they perform not
only pays big dividends in the win and loss column, but in their individual status. Here
are three players that enter make-or-break seasons in Kansas City.
1. Mecole Hardman, WR, 23
Before everyone jumps the gun and screams, ‘He’s only 23’, hear me out. This season
will, arguably, be the most important of Hardman’s young career. Since he was drafted
in 2019, Hardman has had the benefit of being a gadget player behind Hill, Sammy
Watkins, and Travis Kelce in the passing game.
In 2021, however, Hardman is expected to be the team’s No. 2 wide receiver — filling
the hole left by Watkins. With his speed and deep-threat ability, there’s no question the
potential is there. The catch is that Hardman has never caught more than seven passes
in a game and has yet to eclipse 100 yards receiving in a single game. Is he capable of
staying healthy, which was a problem for Watkins, and producing when Hill is silent?
Don’t get it twisted, a poor statistical year will not result in Hardman’s release. What it
will do is have the Chiefs looking for other wide receiving options next offseason —
leaving Hardman as a primary gadget player.
2. Frank Clark, DE, 28
Clark is an interesting case. Did he help Kansas City reach and eventually claim its first
Super Bowl title in 50 years? Yes. Has he lived up to his 5-year, $104-million contract?
Over 29 games with the Chiefs, Clark has racked up 14 sacks (eight in the postseason),
20 tackles for loss, and 29 quarterback hits. His six sacks in 2020 tied him for 41st
league. With two arrests for possession of an illegal firearm occurring in the offseason,
Clark’s impact on the line this year could dictate his future in Kansas City.
If Clark struggles to get to the quarterback, there’s a chance general manager Brett
Veach looks to add an edge rusher in the 2022 NFL Draft. In an early mock draft, Pro
Football Network has Kansas City taking defensive end Myjai Sanders from Cincinnati.
3. Charvarius Ward, CB, 26
As the great Terez Paylor used to say, ‘the contract year is undefeated’. With Ward
becoming an unrestricted free agent next offseason, the Chiefs are going to have to
evaluate Ward’s future in the secondary. Keep in mind, Kansas City added 24-year-old
Mike Hughes and 23-year-old DeAndre Baker to the cornerback unit within the last
season. Like Ward, both players were given up on by their previous organizations.
If we’re being honest, a strong season may not keep Ward in Kansas City either. The
Chiefs let Bashuad Breeland walk this offseason — though he was three years older
than Ward. However, when it comes down to it, Ward is either in Veach’s plans for the
future of the defense or he isn’t. It’s possible that the front office views L’Jarius Sneed
as their No.1 cornerback moving forward — not Ward.