Hello Chiefs Kingdom! Lucas Hampton coming at you here with another Beyond The Border Free Agency! I mentioned in my last post that a fan favorite would be gone from the team this offseason, this will be a multi-part series on a few names that I think could be gone. More than that though, I will look at reasons why they should go, why they should stay, where they could go to, could they be readily replaced, and what we could potentially get in return for them. First up on the list is Tamba Hali.
Tamba Hali was drafted in the 1st round of the 2006 NFL Draft by Carl Peterson, the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs at the time. Kansas City ran a 4-3 defense at the time and the 6’2″ 265 pound player from Penn State was the perfect fit to play opposite Jared Allen. Interesting story about Allen, it wasn’t until the year 2011 that I learned that he used to play for the Chiefs. Hali was never a superstar in the 4-3, he was a good complement to Jared Allen, but once Allen was traded, Hali couldn’t quite fill the production gap. When Scott Pioli and Todd Haley came to town, they brought the 3-4 defense with them. Hali was the perfect height and weight to play the outside linebacker spot. It took him a season or two to grow into the role. Hali was the best and for a time, only pass rusher that the Chiefs had for many seasons. Often times, Hali lead the AFC in sacks and was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of the past three seasons.
Hali’s sack numbers shot way up after switching to the OLB spot and the team had their consistent pass rusher for years to come. The only issue was the other side. Fill-in guys like the aged Mike Vrabel and Andy Studebaker were put on the opposite side but none could provide a useful complement to Hali. That is, until the Chiefs drafted Justin Houston, a 1st round talent who slipped due to a failed drug test, in round three of the 2011 Draft. Houston took some time to turn the corner, but when he came into his own, he really made an impact. Justin Houston turned out to be just the man the Chiefs needed on defense. Houston turned in some impressive numbers and is a still up and coming star in the NFL. Anyway, back to Hali.
It took the defense as whole to adjust to the new 3-4 and several players who were better suited for the 4-3 were having to play out of their usual positions. Hali started off slower like the rest, but he soon took off. Since 2009, Hali has garnered 55 sacks. That’s a massive amount of sacks in 5 years. A player averaging 11 sacks per season over the last 5 years sounds kind of ridiculous as a potential trade away option right? Well, I’m going to give you a few reasons why Hali is an option to go
Firstly is his age. Hali is 30 years old. Injuries are random and can’t be predicted. Age, however, is something that can be counted on. It’s a natural process that people slow down as they get older. Age is beginning to show with Hali as he isn’t as fast as he used to be when the ball is snapped. One would imagine that with the up and coming Justin Houston manning the other side that teams would have major issues in terms of blocking both of them. However, the defensive line plays a heavy role in this situation as the epic lack of a pass rush from the line, to clarify, I am aiming this at the departed Tyson Jackson, would allow for easier blocking of both Hali and Houston. One could argue that more pass rush is needed from Mike DeVito, I will firmly stand by my next statement: Mike DeVito is just fine not rushing the passer. He didn’t put up big flashy stats, but his contribution is often unseen and his absence was felt last season.
But, DeVito is another story. Anything is only as strong as it’s weakest component so with the weakest link on the line being Tyson Jackson, that creates a rather favorable blocking scenario for opposing teams as they don’t have to allocate their best men to handle the defensive line but instead can focus them on the threats that Hali and Houston pose. With the inability to get worse at Tyson Jackson’s old spot, could there be a jump in production for both Hali and Houston? Its a possibility but we may never find out.
Seeing as age is the only thing working against Hali at this point, what has he got going for him? Why should he stay? As previously mentioned, the defensive line hasn’t done him any big favors lately (Poe and DeVito are excused from this. However, Jackson was still a dead weight on this defense.). In spite of that, Hali has performed at a high level and while he has his down seasons, he still manages to produce good sack numbers. He attacks the opposing offense ferociously and does not stop. He was sweating in the pre-game warm ups in 30 degree weather. He has absolutely zero quit in him.
Hali also is not yet quite replaceable. Dezman Moses and Frank Zombo are not guys that anyone would be happy with taking over Hali’s role full time. Maybe the coaching staff has enough confidence in someone already on the roster to handle that responsibility. But, as it stands right now, neither Hali nor Houston could be replaced at this moment. So if Hali was to be traded, where would he possibly go?
Any team that runs a 3-4 defense would immediately be a suitor. Coming to mind immediately are the New York Jets, Philadelphia Eagles, and Green Bay Packers. Would Hali move back to a 4-3? None can say, so for the sake of this, we will stick to 3-4 teams. Working with those three listed options, which one would be the greatest fit? The best one that I can see is the Jets. They run a similar defense to what Andy Reid runs here and need a bit of a boost at linebacker. Sticking with the Jets, what would we get in return? That’s hard to pin down. A 1st round pick would be nice and with Hali’s production level, a 1st round pick is not too high of an asking price. However, due to his age, the Jets may not take that deal. Downgrading to a 2nd round pick would be an ideal trade as it would get the Chiefs back into the second round and would be a fair price to ask of the Jets.
Hali has his age working against him at the moment but is still a very talented player. He has a few ideal fits with potential returns of a 2nd round pick or a 3rd round pick with a decent, useable player attached to the deal. I would like to point out that the trade situation I outlined is hypothetical and not at all any real life indication of an actual trade deal. What do you think Chiefs Kingdom? Is Hali a potential trade away? Where do you see him going to and what would we get in return? What other players do you see that could be traded away? If I see some names that I like, I will include that player in my next article and give you a shout out in the process! Anyways, thank you for reading and…