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Jaye Howard re-signs with the Kansas City Chiefs

Howard was a vital piece of their defensive line last season.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have brought back a key part of their defensive line, re-signing defensive tackle Jaye Howard to a two-year, $12 million contract, according to NFL Media's Rand Getlin. Howard returns for his fourth season in Kansas City.

Howard enjoyed a breakout year in 2015 after a slow start to his NFL career. The Seattle Seahawks took him in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL Draft, but he lasted just one year with the Seahawks, who waived him shortly before the 2013 season. The Chiefs claimed him off waivers and he eventually won a bigger role in 2014, playing 436 snaps and recording 36 tackles.

2015 was the year Howard emerged as a starting-quality defensive tackle, recording 5.5 sacks, 57 tackles and one forced fumble on 752 snaps. The Chiefs had salary cap issues and a lot of pending free agents (Eric Berry, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson) on defense, but they freed up some space when Hali's contract voided.

Howard may be a late bloomer, but he's also in the middle of his prime at age 27. The Chiefs were wise to lock up one of their younger contributors on an aging defense.