Jaye Howard: "We're building something special here"

Howard returns to the Chiefs for 2016 on a new contract

Sometimes, and it's not so frequent in the NFL anymore, the bond of a team and the goals that they share transcend what could be considered better opportunity elsewhere. 

After a 2015 season that saw Jaye Howard have the best year of his four year-career, one in which he compiled 5.5 sacks, 57 tackles (36 solo), a forced fumble and 2 fumble recoveries, had the highest Pro Football Focus grade among Chiefs interior linemen (80.8) and proved to be an invaluable part of a suddenly young and dangerous defensive line, he knew that he would have a number of options.

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"It was a good bit [of other teams interested], but it worked out," Howard admitted via conference call Thursday afternoon. "We're building something special here in Kansas City and I just wanted to be a part of it. For me, just being able to play along the line with Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe, it means a lot to me."

The thought of leaving those familiar faces in a system that he had been working to master over the past three seasons, that was just too much for Howard to turn his back on.

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"I'm comfortable in the system [defensive coordinator] Bob Sutton has here, that was my main thing," Howard said. "I didn't want to go to another organization and have to learn a new system. I'm surrounded by great players here and I can't say that for the other teams that were involved. I don't know those players and I know what I have. I know the players on the defensive side of the ball are going to stand up against anybody."

The Chiefs announced they signed Howard on Thursday, but they did not release the terms. In his statement, general manager John Dorsey pointed to Howard's development and ability to fill in at multiple positions as the reasons the Chiefs made it a priority to keep him.

 "Jaye had a very productive season last year and grew significantly," Dorsey said. "His versatility allows us to do a lot of different things up front. We are glad he will remain with us."

To Howard the player, the contract means that he'll get to continue to play with Bailey and Poe, teammates he considers friends more so than people he simply works with. Howard told the media that even before the signing, Bailey and Poe were ringing his phone, telling him that it was time to get back to work.

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To Howard the man, the contract means so much more. Howard signed the contract with his two young sons, Jeremiah and Jordan, sitting on his lap, and the moment was the culmination of a quest two years and six months in the making.

The Seattle Seahawks placed Howard on waivers in September of 2013, and the Chiefs gave him his opportunity, something he solely viewed as the means he was going to use to provide for his family.

"Throughout this whole process with me being in Seattle and coming here picked up off of waivers, they've been my motivation," Howard said. "My sons and my wife—just having them present in that moment meant a lot to me."

Following an initial year in which he started just one game for the Chiefs, Howard received his first crack at significant action at the beginning of 2014. To that point, he had played just 70 regular season snaps in his entire career.

Mike DeVito, slated to be the team's starting defensive end, suffered a season-ending Achilles injury in Week 1.

Howard started 10 games in 2014, playing multiple positions along the line and finishing the season with 1.0 sack and 36 tackles. In November of that season, Howard watched as his friend in Bailey received his own contract extension. That was one year and five months ago.

Top shots of Jaye Howard in the 2015 season.

"That's a guy (Bailey), I see that he was drafted in the third round," Howard explained, "I was drafted in the fourth, and I'm like, 'If he can do it, I can do it.' It definitely motivated me. It helped push me to get to this point. I'm appreciative of that."

The motivation propelled Howard to his breakout season in 2015, and that boosted the Chiefs as they won 10 games in a row and clinched a playoff berth.

From the waiver wire in 2013, Howard became who many were calling one of the premier free agents in 2016, and he entered the market with options.

But what Howard realized along the process is that the financial security he had strived for was going to come from anywhere he opted to go.

He couldn't leave the team he knew, the friends he had made and the goal they were working so hard at reaching together.

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