Let me preface by saying that it’s very unlikely the Kansas City Chiefs trade Tamba Hali. Even with all the turmoil that has gone in Kansas City, trades in the NFL are a rarity as is. With training camp and the season so close to beginning, it’s hard to imagine a team willing to bring a player into their program this late into the offseason.
However as Chiefs fans saw on Twitter over the weekend, Hali is clearly uncomfortable with his position on Chiefs. He questioned his role during the team’s playoff loss against the Steelers and went on to ask if he was still needed in Kansas City.
As if the Chiefs' offseason wasn't dramatic enough, Tamba Hali is apparently going through a pre-camp tweeting of the grievances pic.twitter.com/rhdzCbj6Af
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) July 22, 2017
While it seems ludicrous that a player who has spent his entire 11 year career with the Chiefs is no longer needed, Hali brings up a very interesting point.
After making five straight Pro Bowls from 2011 to 2015, Hali struggled in 2016. Appearing in all 16 games, starting just two, he racked up just 34 combined tackles with 3.5 sacks. It broke his streak of at least six sacks in a year ranging from 2009-2015.
The Chiefs also have a young up-and-comer at his position in Dee Ford. Ford has been in the NFL for the past three seasons, appearing in 45 games. He has racked up 98 combined tackles with 15.5 sacks and five passes defended.
Ford broke out in 2016 making 10 sacks, good for 15th in the league. He is currently penciled in at one of the starting OLB slots and if he keeps putting up double digit sack seasons Ford will be for the foreseeable future.
That doesn’t mean Hali isn’t valuable. He has played at least 15 games every year of his career and still has a knack for getting to the quarterback. Even at 34 most 3-4 teams would want Hali on their side of the ball.
However there’s no doubt that Hali would get better opportunities elsewhere. This upcoming season may be his last chance to earn a ring in Kansas City as the team shifts to Patrick Mahomes next year. With Ford’s rise and the dysfunction surrounding the team, the Chiefs may not be long for Hali.
Once again, it’s unlikely that a trade this major would happen this late in the offseason. But if Tamba Hali got his wish, these three teams would be best suited for his services.
Out of all the team’s in the NFL in need of an outside linebacker, the Ravens may give Hali the best chance to start. Currently Terrell Suggs and Albert McClellan are penciled in as the two starters in Baltimore’s system.
Suggs has been in the NFL for the past 14 seasons, all with the Ravens. Over 197 games, Suggs has registered 771 combined tackles with 114.5 sacks, 28 forced fumbles and seven picks.
He is a six time Pro Bowler, one time All-Pro member and a one time Super Bowl champion. He is no doubt one of the greatest Ravens of all time and is destined for their Ring of Honor and potential the Hall of Fame.
However playing 14 years in the NFL takes a definite toll on one’s body. He did put together an eight sack season over 15 games in 2016, but in 2015 Suggs appeared in just one game after suffering a torn Achilles. He enters training camp rehabbing from a torn biceps injury, although GM Ozzie Newsome states that he should be all systems go for the season.
If healthy, Suggs will be one of the starters at outside linebacker for the Ravens. That remains a huge if for Suggs however, making depth at the OLB crucial for Baltimore in 2017.
McClellan has been in the NFL for the past six season, he too all with the Ravens. He has yet to win any offseason awards, but he was on the 2012 Ravens team that won the Super Bowl. Over 90 career games, McClellan has racked up 146 combined tackles with three sacks, two forced fumbles and four fumble recoveries.
McClellan does not provide the same output that Hali could. He has only started 23 games in his career and was forced into action following the sudden retirement of Zach Orr. While he isn’t necessarily a bad player, he isn’t going to stand out as the Ravens look to make a run into the playoffs.
While Baltimore does have some impressive youngsters in Tyus Bowser and Matt Judon, it makes much more sense to bring in a proven guy like Hali to fill the role rather than giving it to someone who has yet to hit his prime.
The Ravens are still very much in the playoff hunt. Trading for Tamba Hali gives him the starting role he desires and gives Baltimore another impressive defense weapon as they look for another AFC North crown.
The Houston Texans have one of the best defenses in the NFL featuring the likes of J.J Watt, Jadeveon Clowney and many more. However what it doesn’t have is depth at the outside linebacker position.
Currently Whitney Mercilus and Clowney are penciled in as the starters, something that’ll remain intact throughout training camp. Behind that pair is Brennan Scarlett, Tony Washington and Eric Lee.
Scarlett signed with the Texans as an undrafted free agent following the 2016 NFL Draft. He appeared in seven games as a rookie making 10 tackles combined. While the output wasn’t spectacular, it’s impressive that an UDFA was able to see the field this early into his career. Clearly the Texans coaching staff is enamored with him. But adoration and output are two totally different things. Scarlett is still learning the ropes in the NFL and it may be awhile before he reaches his peak.
Washington went undrafted in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Oregon. He has either been on Houston’s practice squad or injured reserve ever since. Washington put up decent numbers in college with 158 tackles, 25.5 for a loss and 14.5 sacks. But it will all be a moot point for his NFL career if he cannot stay healthy. There’s a chance Washington doesn’t make it out of training camp.
Lee went undrafted out of South Florida in the 2016 NFL Draft. He has yet to play a snap in the NFL. In college he put up 90 tackles with 18.5 for a loss and 4.5 sacks. Like the two men before him, it may take years before Lee is ready to contribute regularly in the league.
Between the three, Scarlett has the highest upside. However he isn’t going to be a Pro Bowler anytime soon. Adding a guy like Hali gives the Texans an extremely talented player off the bench, as well as a veteran who can help mentor Houston’s young core.
Of course, I know you’re all now saying, “Hali wanted out of KC due to playing time, how is he a fit in a place with two locked in starters?”
For one, Houston may be an easier shot to the playoffs/Super Bowl than Kansas City. The Chiefs organization is currently in turmoil whereas Houston, outside of the Osweiler controversy, is pretty standard. While the Colts, Jags and Titans are improving, the AFC South may be easier than the West at this point. Both the Raiders and Chargers look like playoff teams and the Broncos defense remains one of the best in the league. In Houston Hali wouldn’t be losing much but gaining a better shot at a ring as his career winds down.
Also, Clowney’s injury problems could come back to bite him. Clowney has yet to play a full 16 games in any of his first three years in the league. While he has proven he is an elite talent, the injury bug still haunts him. If Clowney misses any time Hali would be thrust into a starting role.
The Houston Texans are bringing in the previously mentioned Zach Orr for a visit. If his health issues aren’t settled, Tamba Hali would be one hell of a backup plan for one of the best defenses in the NFL.
New Orleans Saints
The Saints operate in a 4-3 defense meaning Hali would have to start all over position wise. It may be tough for him to digest an entirely new defense this close to the season. However if a 4-3 team would be willing to take a chance on Hali’s talent overcoming his new position obstacle, it’d be New Orleans.
Currently Dannell Ellerbe and Craig Robertson are working as the weak and strong side linebackers respectfully.
Ellerbe has been in the NFL for the past eight years playing for the Ravens and Dolphins before the Saints. In 77 career games he has racked up 360 combined tackles with 10.5 sacks and three interceptions. In 2016 he appeared in just nine games, making 44 combined tackles with four sacks.
Ellerbe has never been a dominant defender as he has never been voted to the Pro Bowl. His play has also been diminishing following solid 13 and 15 game stints in 2012-2013. Going on 32 Ellerbe is proving that his age is getting to him and that he is nothing more than a rotational defender for New Orleans. The Saints would lose no money by cutting Ellerbe, who is a free agent following the 2017 season. Hali is simply better, faster and strong even in his age 34 season.
Robertson put together a much better year, compiling 114 combined tackles with a sack, two fumble recoveries and an interception. Robertson should actually be one of the leaders on this Saints defense, however his lack of sacks prove the Saints need of a pass rusher. If Hali and Robertson were to split snaps, Robertson could work on running downs whereas Hali would have more opportunities to get at the quarterback and rack up sacks.
Another reason Hali would be a great fit on the Saints is to help in the development of rookie Alex Anzalone. The Saints third round pick struggled with injuries during his time at Florida. However he has all the tools to be a difference making linebacker. With his skill set and Hali’s knowledge the Saints could have the next leader of their defense in Alex Anzalone.
Tamba Hali would be making a major change in defenses, and the Saints would have to be willing to take a chance on him. But New Orleans has been at the bottom of the league in total defense for the past few years now. Perhaps adding a guy with Hali’s potential could be the secret weapon the Saints defense needs.
Think we missed a team? Let us know what you think of Twitter: @spot_chiefs or @DFappiano14