KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Linebacker Tamba Hali did not practice with the Chiefs on Tuesday following reports the club planned to remove the linebacker from the physically unable to perform list, leaving head coach Andy Reid tight-lipped about plans for the veteran pass rusher.
“I’m not even dealing with it,” Reid said. “(General manager) Brett Veach is dealing with all that. I don’t know, honestly I don’t know exactly the situation and what’s going on right now. That’s between Brett and Tamba and his representatives.”
ESPN reporter Adam Schefter tweeted Wednesday morning the team planned to remove Hali from the PUP list. But Reid said Hali did not take part in the team’s morning walk through. He also did appear on the field for the portion of the afternoon practice opened to the media.
“I’m not sure exactly what’s going on to be honest with you,” Reid said after the team’s morning workout. “When I walked out here, he was not practicing, no.”
The linebacker remains a regular presence around the team’s facility. He cannot practice but does workout with the team. Rookie linebacker Tanoh Kpassagnon named Hali as a mentor during an interview Wednesday.
Hali appeared to foreshadow a potential return on Tuesday, posting an image of himself on Instagram entitled “Haliween.” The image featured the text, “The Night He Came Home.”
The question surrounding Hali’s status comes at a time when the Chiefs appear in need of an additional pass rusher. Linebacker Dee Ford left Monday’s game after with a back injury. Back spasms caused Ford to miss to games earlier this year season.
“Dee aggravated his back,” Reid said after indicating Ford would not practice Wednesday. “He’s having tests done and we’ll just see where that goes. No results yet.”
Hali signed a three-year contract in 2016 worth $21 million with a $4.75 million signing bonus and $11.5 million The contract also includes up to $500,000 in bonuses each session in active roster appearances per game.
The 12-year veteran caused a stir during the summer when took to social media and a podcast interview for a self-described rant criticizing his playing time last season. Hali played 53 percent of the team’s defensive snaps a year ago, but saw his playing time decrease as the season progressed. He played just seven snaps in the team’s divisional playoff loss to Pittsburgh.
Hali cleared the air about his criticisms upon his arrival at training camp in St. Joseph, Mo., in July. He started and finished camp on the physically unable to perform list, however, and has yet to practice with the team this season.
The team lists Hali on the PUP list due to his knee. That refers not to a specific injury but the chronic nature of knee problems that limited him last season as part-time participant in practice.
The Chiefs have until Week 11 to return Hali to practice from the PUP list. That starts a three-week countdown at which time the Chiefs must return Hali to the active roster, place him on injured reserve or release him.
Releasing Hali would have little impact on the team’s salary cap for the 2017 season. Hali carries a base salary of $5.75 million this season and in 2018 with a cap number of $8.58 million each season. The team could save $7 million toward next year’s if the club released Hali before the 2018 season. He would still count $1.58 million toward the 2018 cap.
The team gives no sign it plans to cut ties with Hali this season, but the mystery surrounding his status remains unclear.