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Jaye Howard doesn't sound optimistic about returning to Chiefs

Defensive lineman Jaye Howard had 5.5 sacks for the Chiefs last season. AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Defensive lineman Jaye Howard went on SiriusXM NFL radio to talk about his looming free agency and he didn't sound optimistic about returning to the Kansas City Chiefs.

"It's kind of up in the air," Howard said when asked about any progress in contract negotiations with the Chiefs. "Kansas City became home for me and my family, me and my wife and my two boys. They embraced us. I love the fans there. I love the organization. The front office staff is great. I'm surrounded by great players. I would love to be there. But ultimately, at this point in my career, it's about me and my family now.

"I'm open to going anywhere. I think my versatility is going to be able to make me fit into any scheme. I would love to stay in Kansas City, but I'm hoping to go anywhere that's going to allow me to just continue my success."

The Chiefs still have time to re-sign Howard, who doesn't become a free agent until March 9.

Losing Howard would be difficult for the Chiefs. They pulled him off waivers in 2013 from the Seahawks and developed him into a productive player. He was arguably their best defensive lineman last season.

But he's not indispensable, particularly if he's asking for a contract worth more than $8 million a year, as the Chicago Tribune recently suggested. The Chiefs have Dontari Poe and Allen Bailey on their defensive line. Mike DeVito is also a potential unrestricted free agent and isn't as complete a player as Howard, but he's a useful one who would cost far less. The Chiefs also have some developmental players, like Howard once was, and eight picks in an upcoming draft that appears deep in defensive linemen.