When Jaye Howard signed his new contract with the Chiefs on Thursday, he posted for a picture behind a desk, contract in front of him and his twin sons, Jordan and Jeremiah, in his mammoth arms.
It was fitting, considering how Howard has talked for the better part of two years about how the birth of his sons ― who turn 3 in April ― lit a fire under him on the field. About how he wanted to provide for his family.
After signing a two-year, $12 million deal to remain in Kansas City, the 6-foot-3, 320-pounder can take pleasure in knowing he has done just that.
“Throughout this whole process, with me being in Seattle, and coming here, getting picked up off of waivers, they’ve been my motivation,” said Howard, a fourth-round pick of the Seahawks in 2012 who was signed by the Chiefs in 2013. “My sons and my wife, just having them present in that moment meant a lot to me.”
Howard, 27, came on strong this year by setting career highs in tackles (57) and sacks (5 1/2 ). The Chiefs like his ability to play all three positions along their defensive front, something he’s done for the better part of two years.
“Jaye had a very productive season last year and grew significantly,” general manager John Dorsey said in a statement. “His versatility allows us to do a lot of different things up front. We are glad he will remain with us.”
Howard said there were other opportunities for him in free agency, but he’s comfortable in defensive coordinator Bob Sutton’s system ― the Chiefs’ finished seventh in total defense in 2015. He didn’t want to start all over again with a new team.
“I’ve excelled in it,” Howard said. “That was my main thing. 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 (here). I know that the players on the defensive side of the ball are going to stand up against anybody.”
Howard is excited to return to a defensive line front that has grown close in recent years. Howard, Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe ― the Chiefs’ three interior starters ― are all around the same age.
“We’re building something special here in Kansas City and I just wanted to be a part of it,” Howard said. “For me, being able to play along the line with Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe meant a lot to me. Those are great players and we work well together.
“We’ve seen it this past Super Bowl what Denver did on the defensive side of the ball. I feel like we can be just as good, if not better.”
Howard said he’s heard from his buddies throughout the offseason, too, both of whom were encouraging him to come back.
“Through the whole process, even before me signing, Dontari called me and Allen Bailey called me saying let’s get back to work,” Howard said. “Hearing from those guys and just being able to put my family in a secure place financially, I had to take it.”
Another bonus for Howard: With two more big seasons, he can hit free agency again at 29, setting him up for another nice payday.
He wants to play so well in 2016 that he won’t have to wait that long for an extension.
“It’s definitely a great opportunity for me to get back and renegotiate a deal,” he said. “Hopefully I’m able to get back sooner than two years.”