On Tuesday afternoon, the Kansas City Chiefs re-signed outside linebacker Tamba Hali to a three-year deal. Hali, who has been an integral part of Kansas City’s defensive success, helps the Chiefs maintain one of the best front sevens in the NFL.
Chiefs and LB Tamba Hali reached agreement on three-year deal that will enable him to finish career in KC, per league source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 8, 2016
But what does that mean for Dee Ford, who was selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft and has played behind Justin Houston and Hali? Many think this spells the end for him.
Big Hali fan here but not a ringing endorsement for Dee Ford. #Chiefs
— Matt Williamson (@WilliamsonNFL) March 8, 2016
3 years for Tamba??? They must have no faith in Dee Ford. Talking at least yr 4 for Ford to get significant playing time #Chiefs
— Bob Fescoe (@bobfescoe) March 8, 2016
— Russell Lande (@RUSSLANDE) March 8, 2016
Although Hali is expected to stay for three more seasons, the move benefits both him and Ford. Hali has dealt with sore knees the past couple of years. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect Hali to start and split a lot of playing time with Ford.
During the second half of the 2015 season, Hali was limited in practice each week, receiving extra rest prior to each game. This was due to nagging knee injuries and to help him get as close to 100 percent for each game. Regardless, Hali has managed to play through the pain at a high level.
Ever since Hali was drafted in the first round in 2006, he’s finished either first or second on the team in sacks each year. He’s also been voted to the Pro Bowl each of the last six seasons. According to Sporting Charts, Hali was eighth in the league in quarterback hurries with 29 while Houston was second with 35.
But an impressive resume won’t be enough to help Hali, 32, play all of the snaps. Ford should get more action this season, and Hali can still succeed with the team.
When Houston missed the last five games of the regular season due to a knee injury, Ford helped fill in and came through to help the Chiefs. In a narrow 10-3 victory over the San Diego Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium, Ford came away with three sacks in the second half of that game, a pair of them occurring on third down.
Ford would go on to pick up another sack later in the season while starting for Houston. He consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks. During Ford’s five starts, the Chiefs surrendered an average of 13.4 points per game, and the pass rush was a big reason for that.
Hali should remain one of the two primary outside linebackers for the Chiefs going into 2016. The biggest difference will be the amount of snaps Hali and Ford play. Hali will likely see fewer snaps to help him stay fresh and close to 100 percent throughout the 2016 campaign. At the same time, Ford, who showed flashes late in the season, will get more opportunities to contribute.
If Houston suffers another injury, Ford can start in his place and Hali would likely play almost every snap on the other side of the defense.
Hali’s return guarantees that the Chiefs will continue to relentlessly pressure quarterbacks with three viable outside linebackers doing so. Pass rushing has helped the Chiefs finish above .500 each of the last three years and it should help the team remain competitive again in 2016.