Tamba Hali, one of the best pass rushing linebackers in the NFL, may be entering his final season with the Kansas City Chiefs. There are a couple of thoughts that lead you to think 2014 is Hali’s last season in KC, starting with the salary cap issue.
According to OverTheCap.com, Hali has a cap number of $11.4 million in 2014 and $11.9 million in 2015, the final year of his extension. Tamba Hali (30) isn’t getting any younger, and Kansas City has another premier pass rusher that is due for a large pay day with Justin Houston. Mike Mayock of NFL Network and NFL.com spoke about the Chiefs and their pass rusher issues when he held a conference call back in February concernign the NFL Draft. Mayock said,
“I don’t know if you can keep two pass rushers like they have on the outside and pay them both for a period of time,” Mayock said. “So I think they are going to have to start making some decisions about what they are going to do, espcially with that younger player, Justin Houston.”
Mayock is dead on with this, and you can read the full transcript from that conference call right here. Houston is entering the final year on his rookie contract which only pays him roughly $1.5 million in 2014. Safe to say he’s outplayed that contract and will be looking to make about what Tamba Hali makes now by this time next year. The Chiefs most likely will not carry two, top pass rushing salaries for several years to come simply because it would handcuff their salary cap.
John Dorsey has had a plan since he got here and he’s shown indications of what’s to come with moves he’s made in the past. For example, he signed Weston Dressler and Joe McKinght, months before Dexter McCluster hit free agency. Dorsey knew that a departure with McCluster was eminent so he went and signed guys that have potential to fill the void left behind by a player lost to free agency.
The reason I bring this up is because Dorsey might make a move in the draft that could indicate what the Chiefs are thinking about when it comes to outside linebacker.
The Chiefs defense is built around their ability to get after the quarterback, as Bob Sutton proved last season with his exotic blitz schemes and consistent pressure off the edges. The point is, the Chiefs need pass rushers in order for their defense to go and if Tamba Hali is a soon to be a casualty, when do the Chiefs make their move for a replacement?
Certainly, the Chiefs have other needs on their roster that they need to fill for 2014 like wide receiver or offensive line, so adding a third pass rusher might not be at the top of the list. However, that doesn’t mean that if there is a top notch prospect at outside linebacker when they pick at number 23, they won’t take him because they don’t need him. In todays NFL, you can never have enough pass rushers.
It would be nice if Hali was willing to take a cheaper extension, sort-of a “home town” discount if you will, seeing that Hali is in the back half of his career and has been with Kansas City his whole career.
Personally, I want to see Tamba Hali retire as a Chief, as he’s been one of my favorite players during this era of Chiefs football. But at the same time, I have to understand the reason of letting him go if the Chiefs do decide to do so after the 2014 season. I hope this isn’t his final season with the Chiefs, but it certainly could be.
How do you feel about this possibly being Tamba’s final season in KC? And should the Chiefs be looking at linebacker early in the draft to potentially replace him?