Chiefs give Tamba Hali franchise tag

2/16/2011 - NFL Tamba Hali Kansas City Chiefs + more

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs put the franchise tag on linebacker Tamba Hali, who went to the Pro Bowl this past season as the AFC's leading sacker.

In an announcement Wednesday on the team's website, the Chiefs said they are still hopeful of reaching a long-term agreement with the outside linebacker, their first-round pick of 2006.

As a non-exclusive franchise player, Hali is guaranteed a one-year contract equal to the average paid last year to the five highest-paid players at his position if he stays with Kansas City. He can still negotiate with other teams. But the Chiefs would get two first-round draft picks from any team that signed him.

After he was drafted out of Penn State in 2006, Hali was put at defensive end opposite Jared Allen. But he proved undersized at 265 pounds and was moved in 2009 to outside linebacker. There, he blossomed. His pass-rushing abilities helped the Chiefs make a franchise-record six-game improvement to 10-6 and win their first AFC West title since 2003.

In addition to his 14˝ sacks, Hali had 50 tackles, 19 quarterback pressures and four forced fumbles.

"Tamba is a key contributor to our football team, and we have a tremendous amount of respect for him both personally and professionally," general manager Scott Pioli said. "We want Tamba to remain a member of the Chiefs, and we will continue to work together with the hope of reaching a long-term agreement."

An affable, outgoing man, Hali is one of the Chiefs' most popular players. He is a native of Liberia and lived in constant danger in the war-torn country as a youngster before moving to New Jersey with his father. In 2006, he was excused from training camp to fly back to New Jersey and be sworn in as a citizen of the United States. After much bureaucratic wrangling, he was finally able to move his mother to the United States.