This comes barely a year after Kansas City re-signed Howard on a two-year deal worth $10MM. The Chiefs now have only one of their 2016 Week 1 defensive line starters on the roster, with Allen Bailey still under contract. Dontari Poe left as a free agent last month.
This move will save the Chiefs $3.8MM while accounting for $2.5MM in dead money. Howard’s cap figure was set to rise from $3.5MM to $6.375MM, joining other recently re-signed Chiefs among those who saw the franchise backload their deals to free up cap space last year. But Howard will now be a free agent after starting for three seasons with the Chiefs, who entered Saturday with just $1.5MM in cap space.
With that $2.5MM being guaranteed on March 11, the Chiefs want Howard to sign elsewhere, Schefter tweets, in order to recoup some of that money. Assuming Howard does, in fact, sign elsewhere, Terez A. Paylor of the Kansas City Star tweets that the Chiefs can get up to $3.875MM in cap relief, regardless of when Howard signs.
Howard was one of the top defensive linemen in free agency last year but agreed to return to Kansas City as the team fortified its defense via re-ups of Derrick Johnson and Tamba Hali. A year later, Johnson accepted a paycut and Howard is no longer on the roster. The Chiefs’ 2017 defensive line will almost certainly feature Chris Jones and Bennie Logan as starters, replacing Howard and Poe. Bailey would appear to be the third player set to start on this front, but both he and Howard experienced injury issues in 2016.
Howard and Bailey finished last season on IR, with a hip injury responsible for relegating Howard there after eight games. After a breakout 2015 season featuring a career-high five sacks for the former Seahawks fourth-round pick, Howard registered one in eight games last season. The 27-year-old lineman played both defensive end and nose tackle in the Chiefs’ 3-4 scheme and would figure to draw some interest on the open market, provided he’s in position to recover from the hip malady that sidelined him.
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