Mike Pennel will not end up playing for the Bears this season. The team moved the defensive tackle to IR Tuesday, also placing safety Jordan Lucas on its season-ending injured list.
Both Pennel and Lucas were members of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl-winning squad two years ago. While Pennel also contributed for the Chiefs’ 2020 AFC champion team last season, Lucas opted out. These IR placements will ensure neither plays with the Bears this season, though both could resurface in 2021 in the event injury settlements take place.
Pennel participated in the Bears’ minicamp on a tryout basis, and the team was sufficiently impressed. The 30-year-old defender has seven years’ experience, having played with the Packers and Jets before his Kansas City stay. The former UDFA has enjoyed quality stretches, which have continued to generate interest. His 2019 arrival helped a Chiefs defense on a historically bad run early that season.
Lucas started four games for the 2018 Chiefs, who acquired him via trade with the Dolphins. Those are his only four career starts. The Bears signed the ex-UDFA in 2020, but he is unlikely to play in a regular-season game for the team.
Chicago also waived running backC.J. Marable, guard Dareuan Parkerand tackle Badara Traore to move its roster down to 80 players by Tuesday’s deadline.
The 2014 undrafted free agent has managed to put together a solid seven-year career, starting games for the Packers, Jets, and Chiefs. He spent the past two seasons in Kansas City, including a 2019 campaign where he started a pair of playoff games en route to a Super Bowl championship. After serving a two-game ban to start the 2020 season, Pennel saw time in 14 games (one starts) with the Chiefs last year, collecting 29 tackles and one QB hit. He also saw time in each of Kansas City’s three playoff contests, collecting a single tackle.
In total, Pennel has seen time in 91 career games (16 starts), collecting 155 tackles, two sacks, and 13 QB hits. The veteran has also appeared in 10 playoff games, collecting 11 tackles.
We heard earlier this week that the 30-year-old was trying out for the Bears. The team could be looking for some extra reinforcement along the defensive line after nose tackle Eddie Goldman decided to no-show mandatory minicamp.
The Bears have invited some well-known guests to their minicamp. They are working out five players — including tight end Jake Butt, cornerback E.J. Gaines and defensive tackle Mike Pennel — at their three-day mandatory session, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune tweets.
This marks Butt’s second known workout of the offseason. The Michigan alum auditioned for the Cardinals recently. Although Butt starred for the Wolverines not that long ago, he has battled rampant injury trouble as a pro. The former Broncos draftee now has three career ACL tears, two coming in Denver, and has played in just eight games in four seasons.
Pennel leads this group in experience. The veteran interior D-lineman spent the past two years with the Chiefs, making an impact for the two-time reigning AFC champions’ run defense. Pennel, 30, played 14 games with Kansas City last season. The former Packers and Jets defender has played seven NFL seasons.
The Bears are also working out two players who recently participated in The Spring League — tight end Sal CannellaandTyrone Wheatley Jr. The team lists Wheatley as an offensive lineman, though the second-generation NFL hopeful played tight end at Michigan — as one of Butt’s backups — and Stony Brook. Chicago’s minicamp is scheduled to run through Thursday.
Already set to be without Bashaud Breeland for four games, the Chiefs are also slated to begin their Super Bowl title defense without defensive tackle Mike Pennel.
The NFL suspended Pennel two games on Tuesday, Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. Pennel played in 11 Chiefs contests last season, including each of their three playoff games.
Kansas City re-signed Pennel to a one-year deal in March, doing so after the 330-pound interior defensive lineman played a key role in the team’s late-season defensive performance. Pennel played well as a run defender for the Chiefs, with Pro Football Focus giving him a top-20 grade in this area among interior D-linemen last season. Although Pennel only played 154 regular-season snaps, he saw action on 52 defensive plays in the playoffs.
This will be Pennel’s seventh NFL season. The Chiefs initially signed him in October 2019, doing so after the Patriots cut him during training camp. He helped turn the tide after Kansas City’s run defense delivered a historic futility stretch during the season’s first half.
Besides winning a Super Bowl with KC — and his interception-causing hit on 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo was a big reason for that win — the organization also helped to revitalize Pennel’s career. Following two underwhelming seasons with the Jets, the lineman signed a two-year deal with the Patriots last offseason. However, he didn’t make it to the regular season with New England, and Pennel still found himself out of work in mid-October.
He eventually caught on with the Chiefs, and he proceeded to compile 24 tackles and one sack in eight games for the team. He also appeared in each of Kansas City’s three playoff games, starting two of them, and he earned high praise for his work against the run. Pelissero reports that Pennel had other offers — the Cowboys were said to be in on him — but he will try to recapture the magic with the Chiefs.
Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports reports that KC is also re-signing FB Anthony Shermanto a one-year deal (Twitter link). Sherman has appeared in every game for the Chiefs since he joined the club in 2013, and he earned a Pro Bowl bid in 2018. His offensive snaps have decreased dramatically since Patrick Mahomes became the starting QB, but he remains a critical part of the special teams unit.
Dontari Poe may have a landing spot soon. The veteran defensive tackle is in discussions with the Cowboys on a deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding that a contract could be finalized by the end of the day.
In their hunt for defensive tackle help, the Cowboys are also examining the likes of Ndamukong Suh, Damon Harrison and Mike Pennel, NFL.com’s Jane Slater adds (on Twitter). The Cowboys lost Maliek Collins in free agency last week but already made a deal to sign Gerald McCoy. A Poe addition would make this a high-profile interior line and make for an interesting reunion for players who spent last season on Carolina’s defensive front.
The Panthers did not pick up Poe’s 2020 option, sending him to free agency. This Cowboys are the first team to surface as interested in the former first-round pick. A Pro Bowler with the Chiefs back in the 2013-14 seasons, Poe played the past two seasons with the Panthers.
The mammoth nose tackle registered four sacks last season — his most since 2014 — but only played in 11 games. He is recovering from quadriceps surgery. Before 2019, however, Poe had never missed more than one game in a season. He’s been one of the league’s most durable defenders since coming into the league.
It appears the Cowboys are serious about upgrading inside. The McCoy deal and the Poe talks come a year after Dallas drafted Trysten Hill in the second round. Poe played five seasons with the Chiefs before catching on with the Falcons in 2017, and his Atlanta season resulted in a three-year Carolina deal worth nearly $30MM. It will not cost the Cowboys that much to bring in Poe.