Tamba Hali's contract, which he signed after being a first-round pick in 2006, expired after the 2010 season. This made him a free agent, and as of now, the team and Hali's agent are not close to a new deal.
Hali led the AFC with 14.5 sacks and was named to his first Pro Bowl in 2010.
Hali doesn't complain, doesn't question his coaches and does his work quietly and in a way that encourages his teammates to do the same. In the minds of Kansas City Chiefs fans, Hali is the top priority to be re-signed this offseason.
The last time the Chiefs did not re-sign an elite pass rusher it was Jared Allen, and the effects of that decision were felt until this last season, when Hali was able to fill that void. Hali will not come cheaply, which we will address later.
What I find interesting, though, is that during last season, the Chiefs re-signed two of the other must-have players in Jamaal Charles and Derrick Johnson. Why wasn’t Hali re-signed at the same time? Could it be because the Chiefs do not have long term plans for him? These are questions that Chiefs fans should want answers to.
The good news for Chiefs fans is that both Hali and the Chiefs have expressed interest in keeping Hali in Kansas City. The problem, however, is that Hali wants a deal similar to DeMarcus Ware.
According to Jason La Canfora of NFL Network, “Steelers outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley and Kansas City's Tamba Hali are both seeking the deal DeMarcus Ware received from the Cowboys.”
Ware was given a six-year, $78 million deal back in 2009. Ware received $40 million guaranteed and $45 million in the first three years.
As great as Hali was this year, he is nowhere near the level of Ware. Ware has had more than 10 sacks in every season but his rookie year, when he had eight. Besides this season, Hali has never had more than 8.5 sacks in a season, and in 2008-2009 he only had three sacks.
In the last five years, Ware has 289 tackles, which is 70 more tackles than Hali in that same time period.
Frankly, Hali does not deserve a DeMarcus Ware-type of deal. But the money issue is not the reason I think the Chiefs will not keep Hali past the 2011 season.
The reason the Chiefs will not re-sign Hali to a long-term contract is because of injuries. Kent Babb of The Kansas City Star reported that during the end of an interview with Hali he was told about several injuries.
According to Babb, “He (Hali) pointed to his right shoulder, which he said had a tear in it. Then to his left shoulder, which he said had a partial tear in it, too. Then to a foot, which also had a torn muscle in it.”
Why would the Chiefs extend Charles and Johnson but not Hali? Hali was just as important to the Chiefs' success this year as either of those players. The fact that the Chiefs did not re-sign him makes me feel like they know something about these injuries that they are not letting anyone else know about.
In my mind, the Chiefs will make Hali their franchise player, which guarantees him a one-year contract offer and effectively keeps him off the market.
However, as much as I would like for it to happen, I do not see Hali being signed to a long-term deal. The Chiefs will either draft someone to groom and replace him after the 2011 season, or they will trade him at some point during the 2011 season for future draft picks.