Update: Chiefs say they want Tamba back
Tamba Hali's contract with the Kansas City Chiefs has voided which puts him on track to become a free agent on March 9. The Chiefs will be responsible for a $4 million salary cap hit this year based on last year's restructuring of Tamba's contract. We knew last year this was the date his contract voided and the KC Star's Terez Paylor confirmed it indeed has voided.
I'm a little confused about what this means so let's start from the top. When Tamba re-did his deal last year, he received a $5 million bonus. The Chiefs made that contract a five-year contract so that they could spread the cap hit of that bonus out over five years. Instead of being responsible for all $5 million of the bonus last year, the cap hit was spread out to $1 million a year over five years.
However, the contract wasn't really a five-year deal. There was a clause in the contract that stated the deal would void five days before the new league year, which was Friday, March 4. The final four years of the contract were called "dummy years" because they were there simply to lower the cap hit last year while the Chiefs knew that $4 million hit was coming in 2016.
So what does this mean for Tamba's future? There seems to be quite a bit of confusion over what this means, including from myself. I'm not convinced it means Tamba is gone because the Chiefs knew this $4 million cap hit was coming when they structured the contract like this last year and it was reported recently they were trying to bring him back.
The key to me is that, the way I understand it, the Chiefs were going to pay this $4 million cap hit whether it was all this year or whether there was another extension to spread the cap hit out into the future. That $4 million cap hit was going to be paid at some point. Even if the Chiefs want to keep Tamba, it seems reasonable to take the $4 million cap hit from last year's contract this year because the Chiefs have hardly any dead money this year after having $20 million in dead money last year.
The Chiefs can still sign Tamba to another contract. They will just have to deal with that $4 million cap hit in addition to whatever deal he signs.
Of course, the less optimistic view on this is that the Chiefs would have extended him and lowered this year's cap number before the contract voided instead of taking the entire hit this year.
The bottom line? I'm not convinced this means the end of Tamba but it's not exactly an optimistic sign a deal will get done either. March 9, the start of free agency, will tell us more.