Tamba’s Not Going Anywhere … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

So what does Tamba Hali wearing the Chiefs franchise player tag mean?

Nothing, at least for right now; what it may mean in the future is stuck in the morass that is the labor negotiations between NFL owners and players.

But understand this – the Chiefs outside linebacker isn’t going anywhere. If he plays during the 2011 season – if there is a 2011 season – Hali will be wearing red and gold and that’s likely to continue for four, five, six years more.

It’s a very simple equation for Hunt/Pioli/Haley – they cannot afford to let Hali get away. He’s become a foundation stone for the new regime, making the move from defensive end to outside linebacker and performing at a level that ranks him among the best players at his position in the conference.

Want a poster boy for the right 53 players that Pioli/Haley talk so much about? That’s Hali. He’s dedicated, a hard worker, football is important to him and he’s available. Despite the pace that he plays the game, which is full speed at all times, Hali is always on the field. In five seasons, he’s played in 81 regular-season and post-season games and missed one. That was back in 2008 due to an ankle injury.

Hali is a football warrior and he deserves to be rewarded.

By using the franchise player designation, the Chiefs were simply covering their bases. Come March 4 with the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement, Hali’s franchise tag becomes meaningless, like those slapped on other players around the league like QB Peyton Manning, WR Vincent Jackson, QB Michael Vick and DT Haloti Ngata.

What the Chiefs and those other teams are counting on is the franchise player designation being part of the new agreement with the players. There’s no guarantee there will be a continuation of the tag. The franchise player is something the players have grumbled about over the years – it’s drawn darts because of the limitations it puts on some of the best players in the league. It was a replica of the Larry Bird Exemption the NBA established years ago that allows a team to keep one of its key free agents without being affected by the constraints of the salary cap.

Franchise player, unrestricted free agent, salary cap – there’s no indication that those terms will be part of the new agreement. If the tag returns, it would limit the ability of Hali to move on from Kansas City. He could entertain offers from other teams, but if the rules remained the same, it would cost the offering team a pair of first-round draft choices in compensation to the Chiefs.

Again, hat’s the old rules – no one knows if the rules will remain the same with a new agreement.

The Chiefs would always be able to work out a trade with another team for the franchised Hali, just as they did with DE Jared Allen in 2008. Allen was their franchise player at the time and the Chiefs and Vikings worked out a deal that sent No. 69 to the north woods in exchange for four draft choices.

But that was a football marriage that needed a divorce. That’s not the case with Hali and the present Chiefs. Hali has said he wants to finish his career in Kansas City and the Chiefs say they want to sign Hali.

“Tamba is a key contributor to our football team and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him both personally and professionally,” Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli said. “We want Tamba to remain a member of the Chiefs, and we will continue to work together with the hope of reaching a long-term agreement.”

The offer for a non-exclusive OLB franchise tag is projected to be $10.19 million for 2011. With the defensive end number projected to be worth $13.2 million. Again, depending on the future, that could be a factor in the Hali-Chiefs situation because he essentially plays a hybrid position, standing on first and second down and with his hand on the ground rushing the passer on third down.

When Terrell Suggs became the franchise player for Baltimore in 2008, the team and Suggs worked out an agreement that his tender offer would be between outside linebacker and defensive end. Suggs played nearly 50 percent of his snaps at defensive end in 2007. Hali’s numbers are not known but they don’t figure to be at that high a level.

Hali wants to do a deal. Pioli says the Chiefs want to do a deal. Hali’s agent Brian Mackler is not known as an unreasonable representative. Losing Hali would be a major blow to the Chiefs efforts to stay among the contenders.

All those reasons combine to create what should be a fairly easy to settle negotiation between player and team. For the last three years, the Chiefs have kept their payroll low, due largely to the influx of so many younger players.

Hali has reached a point where it’s time for him to be rewarded as one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. This is not a deal the Chiefs can go cheaply on. They need to send the message that a player that performs will be rewarded with a contract that matches his production.

And Tamba Hali has definitely performed and produced.


  • BEARS – signed OL coach Mike Tice to a contract extension through 2012.
  • BILLS – released DT Marcus Stroud.
  • CARDINALS – promoted Mike Miller to offensive coordinator. Miller had been the passing game coordinator.
  • CHIEFS – placed the franchise player designation on OLB Tamba Hali.
  • RAIDERS – signed DL Richard Seymour to a new contract that includes $22.5 million in guaranteed money. There are conflicting media reports on the length and full terms of the deal.
  • REDSKINS – named Sean McVay as tight ends coach.
  • TITANS – named Tracy Rocker as defensive line coach and Frank Bush linebackers coach.

7 Responses to “Tamba’s Not Going Anywhere … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • February 17, 2011  - KC_Guy says:

    So I understand your take on the Franchise Tag situation is:

    It will become meaningless after March 3 when the CBA expires. But it may be re-established with a new CBA – and the move is meant to make sure no timelines etc are missed.
    Guess the same should hold true for RFA/ERFA tenders then. Guess we will see some moves there pretty soon as well even if it is unclear what the new rules on RFA are – if there is any at all.

  • February 17, 2011  - RW says:

    Quick solution: Sign Hali to a longterm deal comparable to the best at his position in the league, stop the drama and get on down the road.

    Why the front office goes through this exercise in the first place speaks to the unmitigated hubris of the owner and GM, in my view. On the one hand they say Hali is their kind of guy but they have to slap a tag on him to buy more time in their dealings to beat his agent down in price?

    We’re not talking about some slug here. We’re talking about the Chief’s MVP, excellent character guy that should be the face of the franchise. Memo to Pioli/Hunt: Wise up.

  • February 17, 2011  - ed says:

    RW chiill out. Deal will get done. You can say same thing about Peyton Manning of the Colts. These organizations are trying to figure out what new rules they’re going to be dealing with. Like it or not this is a business and no team going to be throwing long term contracts around right now until CBA is done and over.

  • February 17, 2011  - RW says:

    Ed: Same message.

  • February 17, 2011  - RedCross says:

    RW you are right, the Chiefs just need to pay Hali. Doesn’t matter what the asking price is, pay him. If he wants 200 million a year, pay him. If he wants a private jet, buy it. Just get it done. Oh, you said pay him a “deal comparable to the best at his position in the league.” I see. You are privy to the price that Hali and his agent are asking. You know that what you stated is what they are asking. It’s not possible they are playing hard ball and want more than a “deal comparable to the best at his position in the league.” Chiefs, get on with it. Stupid, cheap Owners.

  • February 17, 2011  - Mike says:

    “Hali is a football warrior and he deserves to be rewarded.” Couldn’t have been written any better.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News