Tamba Hali admits it would have been nice to see Patrick Mahomes start sooner

Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) running
Nov 20, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) running / Gary Rohman/MLS/USA TODAY Sports

Tamba Hali hasn't played for the Kansas City Chiefs since 2017, which was his 12th and final season in the league. 2017 was also the year that Patrick Mahomes was a rookie with the Chiefs after the franchise moved up 18 spots to draft him with the 10th overall pick.

Mahomes, of course, didn't play that year aside from a Week 17 game against the Broncos that meant nothing but Hali recently went on the record saying that there were times during that 2017 season when he wanted Mahomes to play. Alex Smith was the starting quarterback that year and was traded mere weeks after the 2017 season came to an end.

"I can't say I saw all of these championships. But I knew we had a great player that came in the building. I could tell you that. I mean, at times we wanted him to play. You know, we wanted him to be on the field but..." Hali finished that sentence with a shrug.

Tamba Hali: "... we wanted him to play."

Smith had been the Chiefs starter for the previous four seasons before the Chiefs drafted Mahomes and it became clear that he had taken them as far as they could go with him as the quarterback. It was time to draft a franchise quarterback and that ended up being Mahomes, who had the Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game in his first full year as a starter and helped them win the Super Bowl in his second full year as a starter. He's now won three titles in five years.

Hali only played with Mahomes that one year but says that he knew Mahomes was a special player. There were times when Smith and the Chiefs offense struggled during that 2017 season (a three-game losing streak to all three of the New York/New Jersey-based teams comes to mind) and fans were crying for the team to put Mahomes in. Perhaps this was what Hali was alluding to.

The Chiefs went on to lose in the first round of the playoffs and that was all she wrote for Smith as the starting quarterback. Mahomes had done enough in his lone appearance the week prior to justify winning the job moving forward and the rest is history.