The Chicago Bears added to their mix of defensive linemen today, with the signing of Jaye Howard:
We have officially signed DL Jaye Howard to a 1-year contract. pic.twitter.com/UYoy4DTSMg
— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) May 5, 2017
Howard, who was released by the Kansas City Chiefs earlier in the offseason, visited Halas Hall earlier this week as part of his free agency tour. In an important development, he reportedly passed his physical yesterday and was handed a contract offer by the Bears – but left without agreeing to the deal. Howard planned to continue shopping around for a contract, but evidently he found what he was looking for in a one-year deal with the Bears.
After drafting only one defensive player in last weekend’s NFL Draft, Howard’s presence along the defensive line is certainly welcome. Howard started 30 of the 43 games he appeared in over a three-year span with the Chiefs. He played in all 16 games in 2014 and 2015, but a hip injury sidelined him in 2016 and placed him on season-ending injured reserve.
When he played, Howard was a productive players who had grades of 72.1, 74.2, and 78.5 in 2013, 2014, 2015. Howard picked up career bests in sacks (5.5) and tackles (36), while also recovering two fumbles in 2015. The Bears could use that kind of production next to defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and on the other side of the line from Akiem Hicks.
Howard projects to be in the mix to possibly unseat Mitch Unrein as a starter at defensive end. Even though Howard posted a sub-par 63.2 rating at PFF in 2016, a healthy season behind the inspiration of playing on a one-year deal could lead to more desired results out of the front seven.