AFC West Notes: Hali, Reid, Raiders, Broncos

Entering his 12th season with the Chiefs, Tamba Hali‘s role might be closer to a part-time position when compared to his near-decade run as a consistent presence on Kansas City defenses. The team has Justin Houston healthy and Dee Ford back after a breakout season. Hali took to Twitter to address his status with the Chiefs, firing up a┬ástring of tweets shaped around his lack of usage in January’s divisional-round loss to the Steelers (Twitter links). The 33-year-old was not happy playing just seven plays and tweeted, “Am I needed in KC anymore?”

Hali added (on Twitter) he was told his minimized play was to preserve him for the playoffs, which is interesting considering the Chiefs were in an elimination game. But Ford and Houston were the team’s primary linebackers that night. Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star, noting the tweets’ authenticity, pointed out how the outside linebacker kept quiet about this for a while but has obviously been upset about his lack of playing time in the Chiefs’ biggest game in 13 years (Twitter links). Paylor adds (on Twitter) Hali is not believed to be upset about being tied to the Chiefs but wants a prominent role.

A 2006 first-round pick, Hali is now on his third Chiefs contract — a three-year, $21MM pact — and that deal being backloaded inflates his cap charge from $3.8MM in 2016 to $8.6MM this season. Kansas City incurring a dead-money penalty of $8.91MM in the event of a 2017 Hali release makes that almost certainly a non-starter for a team up against the cap. But in 2018, the Chiefs can cut Hali and save $7MM. Ford’s salary also rises north of $8MM in 2018 due to the Chiefs exercising his fifth-year option. A five-time Pro Bowler whom Pro Football Focus rated as a top outside linebacker as recently as 2015, Hali started in front of slower-developing Ford in 2014 and ’15 but ceded ground as last season progressed and Houston returned.

However, the team could probably benefit from Hali as a part-time pass rusher, as several teams have from aging stalwarts in recent years. But his usage rate could be a point of contention, if Saturday’s string of posts is any indication.

Here’s the latest out of Kansas City and the rest of the AFC West.

  • The Chiefs’ ouster of John Dorsey and promotion of Brett Veach figures to give Andy Reid more power regarding personnel matters, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk writes. Veach broke into the NFL with the Reid-era Eagles — as Reid’s personal assistant — in the 2000s and followed the coach to Kansas City in 2013.
  • UNLV hired a pricey lawyer to negotiate terms with the Raiders on the parties’ future use of the $1.9 billion domed stadium set for construction and future use, Adam Candee of the Las Vegas Sun reports. The Mountain West Conference program and the Raiders are legally bound, via state mandate, to co-exist at the to-be-constructed venue. But the sides have to negotiate the agreement. Florio notes the Raiders proposed the first draft of said agreement, one Candee and Florio note was tilted toward the NFL team.
  • The Broncos haven’t had a place for No. 4 cornerbacks since forming their dominant trio of Chris Harris, Aqib Talib and Bradley Roby in 2014. Kayvon Webster hardly saw the field as a defender after Talib and Roby arrived, leading to his defection to the Rams, but the Broncos drafted a project corner in Brendan Langley out of Lamar in the third round. Langley doesn’t figure to play a big role this season, but Cameron Wolfe of the Denver Post notes the team sees the ex-Division I-FCS defender as a potential No. 1 corner down the line.
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