In the comments, many, many people kept bringing up one name over and over again as a player with comparable stats who could be had for much cheaper: Jaye Howard of the Kansas City Chiefs.
So I thought it would be natural then to focus on Howard for my next post for those who may not be as familiar with him.
Howard was originally a fourth-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks in 2012. He appeared in two games as a rookie and accumulated no stats. He was waived by the Seahawks ahead of the 2013 season and was signed by the Chiefs the very next day.
In 2013 Howard appeared in three games with one start but recorded only seven tackles. In 2014 he appeared in all 16 games, started 10 and notched one sack and 26 tackles. Then last year, he really started to come into his own, starting 14 of the 16 games he played and recording a forced fumble, recovered two fumbles, had 36 tackles and 5.5 sacks for Bob Sutton's 3-4 defense.
Howard is still young at just 27 and is just starting to come into his own. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune mentioned Howard in his most recent "10 Thoughts" column:
Defensive ends in 3-4 schemes have been getting paid recently and Howard will do well in free agency. I'm told Howard is looking for a contract averaging between $8 million and $9 million per year. He's 27 years old and would give the Bears an anchor up front to play alongside nose tackle Eddie Goldman.
$8 million to $9 million is pricey but still significantly less than what Jackson is supposedly looking for, which is believed to be in the $12 million per year range or more.
He would be a cheaper alternative to more expensive players like Jackson and a welcome addition to the d-line next to Eddie Goldman.
Last year we saw Ryan Pace wisely navigate the big money wave of free agency and sign the rising Pernell McPhee to a solid, yet comparatively modest 5-year deal that averages $7.75 million per year compared to a number of $8 million to $10 million per year players around him.
If Pace were able to sign Howard to a 5-year $42 million deal (around $8.5 million per year) with about half of it guaranteed, I would say that would be a solid contract and not likely to put the team in cap trouble down the road.
Would you like to see Jaye Howard in Chicago this fall?