While many teams around the NFL have policies in place that prevent in-season extensions, the Chiefs are not one of them, and the club has reportedly engaged in discussions with one of its top defenders. According to Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star, the Chiefs have begun extension talks for defensive lineman Jaye Howard.
Howard, a fourth-round pick in the 2012 draft, was cut by the Seahawks prior to the 2013 season, and was claimed off waivers by the Chiefs. The former Florida Gator has since blossomed in Kansas City, earning a starting job on the defensive line. So far this season, Howard has compiled 40 tackles, 2.5 sacks, and a forced fumble.
With his rookie contract set to expire at year’s end, Howard, who turns 27 next month, will be eligible for unrestricted free agency in the winter if he doesn’t sign a new deal with the Chiefs. For his part, Howard would love to remain in Kansas City, suggesting that his teammates are “like family.”
“I like Coach [Andy] Reid, I love playing for him,” Howard said, per Paylor. “Love this organization. We’re building something. We’ve got young players; sooner or later, we’re going to be one of the top-10 [defenses] in the league.”
For a player like Howard, a defensive end in a 3-4 scheme who typically doesn’t get after the passer much, his value can be difficult to determine. However, Pro Football Focus grades him among the league’s top interior defensive linemen for the 2015 season — he ranks 14th overall and third against the run among interior DL, per PFF.
It was around this time last season that fellow Chiefs defensive lineman Allen Bailey signed a four-year, $25MM extension. At the time, Bailey was in his first full season as a starter, so it would make sense for Howard to at least match – and perhaps surpass – that deal. That’s certainly the case that will be made by agent Drew Rosenhaus, who represents both Bailey and Howard.
If Rosenhaus pushes for a larger deal than Bailey’s, there aren’t a ton of comparable recent signings for him to point to. The only 3-4 defensive ends to sign bigger contracts within the last year are Cameron Heyward of the Steelers and Corey Liuget of the Chargers, who are both earning $10MM+ annually on their new extensions.