Anybody who is a Kansas City Chiefs fan loves Tamba Hali. The Liberia native is everything you could possibly ask for, playing hard on every snap and producing at a tremendous rate.
Hali is one of the greatest Chiefs of all-time, certain to end up with his rightful place in the franchise's Hall of Fame following his retirement. A first-round pick in 2006 out of Penn State, Hali has living up to and surpassed any reasonable expectations. Over his nine-year career, Hali has posted three seasons of double-digit sacks and 79.5 overall, resulting in five consecutive Pro Bowls and two All-Pro teams.
Hali's success and work ethic has been incredible, but all good things come to an end. For Kansas City and Hali, that time is now.
The Chiefs are coming off two straight winning seasons for the first time since 2005-06 and have a pivotal offseason ahead of them. General manager John Dorsey is up against the salary cap right now and will be making hard decisions to create space for key free agents and the upcoming draft class.
In this vein, Hali is a logical candidate to be released. The veteran is due $11.96 million in the final season of his five-year, $55 million deal. If cut, the Chiefs stand to save $9 million against the cap with the remaining as dead money. The call on Hali will come in the next two months, with a $2 million bonus due in March.
Kansas City can create cap flexibility without cutting Hali, but it is much more difficult. Dwayne Bowe's contract is one way, along with converting Alex Smith's base salary into bonus and releasing players such as A.J. Jenkins, Donnie Avery, Vance Walker, Joe Mays, Mike DeVito and Chase Daniel.
Still, there is another reason the Chiefs should move on from Hali: Dee Ford. Whether or not Ford will become an impact player like Hali remains to be seen, but it needs to be found out. Ford was a first-round draft pick and in the NFL, you must hit on those selections to be successful.
Hali is also coming off the worst statistical year he has endured since 2008, registering six sacks. At 31 years old, Hali might be starting to break down after dealing with a sore knee all season. Next year, Ford is due $1.85 million against the cap. If Dorsey believes Ford can be any type of force at all, releasing Hali becomes the obvious move when factoring in financials.
It is never easy saying farewell to a good friend. Unfortunately, the time has come.