Chiefs officially announce signings from first wave of free agency

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs on Thursday formally announced numerous previously reported transactions.

Jan. 3, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) rushes against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Jan. 3, 2015; Kansas City, MO; Chiefs outside linebacker Tamba Hali (91) rushes against the Oakland Raiders at Arrowhead Stadium. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

The free-agent signings made official are the returns of outside linebacker Tamba Hali, inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, defensive end Jaye Howard and outside linebacker Frank Zombo, and the additions of offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz and outside linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi.

The Chiefs also announced the signings of defensive end David King, who was tendered as an exclusive-rights free agent before the start of the league’s calendar year, and linebacker Efe Obada.

Not a bad loot at all from the first 24 hours of free agency, which began Wednesday, especially the team’s ability to retain four key contributors.

Perhaps Howard, who signed a two-year deal, captured best why the Chiefs proved an attractive return destination.

“We’re building something special here in Kansas City and I just wanted to be a part of it,” Howard said Thursday in a conference call with Chiefs beat writers. “For me, being able to play along the line with Allen Bailey and Dontari Poe meant a lot to me. Those are great players and we work well together.”

Indeed, the sense of togetherness was a common theme among the returning players.

Zombo, who signed a three-year contract, pointed out during his conference call that the locker room environment hasn’t changed since he first arrived in 2013.

“I feel that’s the reason why we are so successful because the locker room chemistry is so strong here,” Zombo said. “We’re extremely close with our coaches just because we’ve been with them for so many years. That’s why everyone’s on the same page and why we do so well on Sundays.”

Hali, who has played his entire 10-year career with the Chiefs since being selected in the first round of the 2006 NFL Draft, said the thought of playing elsewhere never crossed his mind.

And he had sentimental reason to return.

“To put some spice on it, I was the last draft pick for Lamar Hunt,” Hali said. “Lamar Hunt, obviously, was the founder of the AFL. But for me, staying here, it means everything. I started my career here.”

The Chiefs’ ability to win the past three seasons and the atmosphere the organization has built didn’t go unnoticed to Schwartz, who signed a five-year contract.

Schwartz, of course, had the benefit of advice from his brother, Geoff, who played for the Chiefs in 2013.

But observations from afar played a role in the offensive tackle’s decision to sign in Kansas City.

“It’s really a great opportunity from top to bottom, starting with the organization, the history, all the way up,” Schwartz said. “I think I fit very well in terms of what’s going on offensively.”

Kansas City had a quiet Day Two of free agency when compared to the flurry of signings Wednesday. But the Chiefs lost cornerback Sean Smith, who signed a reported four-year contract with the Oakland Raiders.

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Herbie Teope is the lead Chiefs beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and The Topeka Capital-Journal. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @HerbieTeope.

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