Free-agent DL Jaye Howard leaves Bears’ complex without a deal

SHARE Free-agent DL Jaye Howard leaves Bears’ complex without a deal
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Former Chiefs defensive lineman Jaye Howard, right, visited the Bears. (AP)

The Bears’ most popular player put out a social-media plea to keep Jaye Howard in Chicago, but the former Chiefs defensive lineman left Halas Hall on Wednesday without an agreement in place to sign a free-agent contract.

The 6-3, 301-pounder left with an offer from the Bears and hasn’t closed the door on joining the team, but he’ll continue to visit other teams.

Howard, 28, one year removed from being a highly coveted free agent, started five games last year before going on injured reserve with a hip-flexor problem. He passed the Bears’ physical.

Guard Kyle Long tweeted high praise for Howard after meeting with him early Wednesday.

“Just met Jaye Howard,” Long wrote. “He’s as scary in person as he is on film. Bears fans, I don’t know his Twitter, but dude shouldn’t leave the city!”

The Bears, who didn’t draft a defensive lineman, have an opening for someone who could start alongside Eddie Goldman and Akiem Hicks. Otherwise, Jonathan Bullard, the team’s third-round pick last year, and Mitch Unrein appear to be the favorites to start at defensive end.

The Chiefs re-signed Howard to a two-year, $10 million contract — with $8.3 million guaranteed — in March 2016 but cut him April 22.

Howard had 5½ sacks in 2015, when he started 14 games, but had only one sack last season. According to Pro Football Focus, though, he had the second-highest run-stop percentage among 3-4 defensive ends last year, trailing only the Ravens’ Timmy Jernigan.

Training-camp date set

Bears fans will get their first on-field glimpse of rookie quarterback Mitch Trubisky — and starter Mike Glennon — in the last days of July.

The team will report to Olivet Nazarene University for training camp July 26, the Bears announced. The team figures to practice for the first time the next day, though the Bears have yet to release such details.

The camp will be the 16th at ONU after the Bears spent 18 years at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville.

This and that

The Bears’ veterans will participate in OTAs on May 22, 23, 25 and 30 and June 1-2, 5-6 and 8-9. The three-day mandatory minicamp begins June 13; rookies will hold their three-day minicamp starting May 12.

† Hicks announced that he, along with the group Give Something Back, is giving three four-year Lewis University scholarships to Chicago Public Schools seniors. The three students will be selected in the next few weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @patrickfinley.

Email: pfinley@suntimes.com

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