Mike Pennel

Contract Details: Vaccaro, Callahan, Okafor

Let’s take a look at the details of a few recently-signed NFL contracts, with all links going to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle’s Twitter account:

Patriots To Sign Mike Pennel, Matt LaCosse

While some teams are splurging, the Patriots are spreading the wealth. On Thursday afternoon, the Pats agreed to sign former Jets defensive lineman Mike Pennel and former Broncos tight end Matt LaCosse, as Field Yates of ESPN.com tweets. It’s a two-year deal for Pennel, per his agent (Twitter link).

Pennel was a staple of the Jets’ defense in recent years, appearing in every game over the last two seasons. His Jets stint, which included ten starts, yielded an average of 31 tackles per season with zero sacks. His traditional stats did not jump off of the page, but the advanced metrics were very high on his work in 2018. Pennel was tied as the 14th best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, though his 358 snaps were the lowest sum of anyone in the top 40. Earlier this month, the Jets turned down his option.

LaCosse had 24 catches and 250 yards while filling in as the Broncos’ starting tight end for a period last year, but Denver non-tendered him this offseason. With Rob Gronkowski‘s status for next year still up in the air, LaCosse could be an option to help fill the gap, albeit one with less star power.

Jets To Decline Mike Pennel’s Option

The Jets are not picking up the option for the final two years of defensive tackle Mike Pennel’s contract, a source tells Field Yates of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Tuesday was the deadline to decide on an option bonus worth $1MM, but Pennel will instead hit the open market.

Pennel has been a staple of the Jets’ defense in recent years, appearing in every game 0ver the last two seasons. His Jets stint, which included ten starts, yielded an average of 31 tackles per season with zero sacks.

Pennel’s traditional stats d0 not jump off of the page, but the advanced metrics were very high on his work in 2018. Pennel was tied as the 14th best defensive tackle in the NFL last year, according to Pro Football Focus, though his 358 snaps give him the lowest total of anyone in the top 40.

Pennel’s three-year, $12MM deal has been discontinued, but he should find a decent market for his services this offseason as a No. 3 DT.

Jets Re-Sign DT Mike Pennel

The Jets continued their busy offseason on Friday by announcing the re-signing of defensive tackle Mike Pennel to a three-year deal worth up to $12 MM, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets.

Claimed by the Jets in February 2017 after being released by the Packers, the fourth-year defender played in all 16 games with New York and made three starts, registering 35 total tackles. In his four seasons in the league, Pennel has recorded one sack to go along with 75 tackles in 53 total games. In 2016, Pennel served a pair of four-game suspensions for substance abuse violations.

So far in free agency, the Jets have bolstered their defensive by signing cornerback Trumaine Johnson and linebacker Avery Williamson. The team has also announced the re-signing of Morris Claiborne in addition to Pennel.

AFC Notes: Texans, Browns, Jimmy G., Fins

The Texans plan to discuss a contract extension with head coach Bill O’Brien after next season, according to owner Bob McNair (via John McClain of the Houston Chronicle). The 2017 campaign will be the penultimate year of O’Brien’s contract, and he has thus far led the typically quarterback-weak Texans to three nine-win showings and two playoff berths.

Houston continues to be in dire need of help under center, of course, which McNair realizes. “It’s important that we upgrade the play at quarterback,” he told McClain. McNair did express confidence in incumbent starter Tom Savage, though he’s leery of the 26-year-old’s durability issues. “He’s played twice (in regular season) and gotten hurt twice,” McNair noted. “That’s our only concern with Tom. He’s smart enough. He knows the system. He’s got a good arm. I think he can get the job done, but if we depend on him, and he gets hurt in the first or second game . . .”

Savage is only atop the Texans’ depth chart now because of the horrid play of Brock Osweiler, whom they traded to the Browns earlier this month. The move was “a shocker” for McNair, who “couldn’t believe” general manager Rick Smith was able to dump Osweiler’s contract on the Browns (albeit at the cost of a second-round pick). Osweiler is just a year into the four-year pact the Texans handed him as a free agent last offseason. Featuring high cap hits and $37MM in guarantees, the deal quickly became an albatross, and McNair has a theory on why things went so poorly for Osweiler in Houston (via McClain). “(O’Brien) didn’t have a chance to get to know him. That’s one of the problems with free agency,” lamented McNair. “In the draft, we’re able to bring them to Houston, sit down with them, watch them interviewed by a bunch of coaches, and you have time to check them out. You can’t talk to them before they become a free agent. You can’t work them out. We didn’t know him that well.”

Texans brass, including McNair, all seemed to love Osweiler last March, but he then bombed on the field and didn’t mesh with O’Brien in his lone Houston season.

More from the AFC:

  • “An NFL source familiar with all the principals involved” speculates the Browns will “make another run” at Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo at the league meetings, ESPN.com’s Tony Grossi writes. Business tends to go down at the league meetings with everyone in the same place and we could see trade talks get a jumpstart this week in Phoenix. If a trade does happen, however, the same source says it might not occur until closer to the draft on April 27.
  • Free agent linebacker Zach Brown is reportedly choosing between the Dolphins and Raiders, but Miami’s Mike Tannenbaum-led front office doesn’t seem to be going all-out to sign him, observes Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. “The lion’s share of our focus right now is on the draft,” said Tannenbaum, the team’s executive vice president of football operations. “If an opportunity came along, we’d evaluate it appropriately. But our focus is really on the draft and something comes along, we’ll certainly look at it.”
  • Defensive tackle Mike Pennel‘s one-year contract with the Jets is worth $990K, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com tweets. There’s no guaranteed money in the deal, but it does come with up to $250K in roster bonuses and a $50K workout bonus.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

Jets Re-Sign DT Mike Pennel

The Jets have signed/re-signed defensive tackle Mike Pennel to a one-year deal, according to agent Andy Simms (on Twitter). The Jets claimed Pennel off waivers in February. Mike Pennel (Vertical)

[RELATED: Jets Sign CB Morris Claiborne]

Pennel comes with some unfortunate baggage. In 2016, he served a pair of four-game suspensions for substance abuse. The second ban was supposed to be for ten games, but Pennel fought with the NFL and NFLPA to ultimately get the second suspension chopped down.

Between suspensions, Pennel appeared in eight games, played in 103 defensive snaps and totaled seven tackles. In his best year, 2015, he established career highs in games (16), starts (five), tackles (24) and sacks (one).

The Jets are short on talent, so they are willing to roll the dice on Pennel, despite his past transgressions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 3/9/17

Unrestricted free agent news will obviously dominate the day, but several clubs also had to make decisions on whether to offer tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents. All RFA tenders listed are original round/right of first refusal (worth $1.797MM), and all links go to Twitter:

RFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

ERFAs:

Tendered:

Non-Tendered: 

Jets Claim Mike Pennel

The Jets have claimed defensive tackle Mike Pennel off waivers, according to ESPN’s Field Yates (Twitter link). Pennel’s status had been in limbo since the Packers cut him Jan. 9.

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Pennel, 25, is coming off a season in which he served a pair of four-game suspensions for substance abuse violations. The second ban was supposed to be for 10 games, but Pennel filed suit against both the NFL and the NFLPA, claiming that the appeals board was only going to consist of two neutral arbitrators (as opposed to the standard three to five). Pennel then dropped his lawsuit after the sides came to an agreement to presumably reduce the suspension from 10 games to four.

After the second four-game penalty expired, the Packers moved on from Pennel. Between suspensions, Pennel appeared in eight games, played in 103 defensive snaps and totaled seven tackles. Previously, the 2014 undrafted free agent amassed 29 appearances in Green Bay during his first two seasons. In his best year, 2015, he established career highs in games (16), starts (five), tackles (24) and sacks (one).

Pennel will now join a Jets team with three high-profile defensive linemen – Leonard Williams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson – as well as the less heralded Steve McLendon.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers Release DT Mike Pennel

The Packers gave Mike Pennel a second chance following a suspension earlier this season. With another four-game ban coming to an end, it appears that the organization has had enough. ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky reports that the Packers have released the defensive tackle. The 25-year-old’s roster exemption was set to expire today.

Mike Pennel (Vertical)The former undrafted free agent was suspended for the first four games of this season after having violated the league’s substance abuse policy. Pennel returned to the Packers and appeared in eight games, but he was slapped with another four-game ban in early December. Considering it was a second offense, the defensive tackle was initially facing a ten-game suspension. Pennel actually filed suit against the NFL and the NFLPA, claiming that the impending appeals board was only going to consist of two neutral arbitrators (as opposed to the standard three-to-five). The suit was dropped after the two sides came to an agreement, and that agreement presumably cut the suspension from 10 games to only four games.

Either way, the defensive lineman is going to have to find his next opportunity elsewhere. In eight games this season, Pennel only compiled seven tackles. The defensive lineman logged 103 defensive snaps as he found himself behind Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, and Datone Jones on the depth chart. 2015 was a “career-year” for Pennel, as the lineman finished with 25 tackles, one sack, and one forced fumble in 16 games.

Pennel was only signed to a minimum salary contract through this season, and he missed out on a portion of that base salary and signing bonus thanks to the pair of suspensions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Packers’ Mike Pennel Suspended Four Games

Packers defensive tackle Mike Pennel will serve his second four-game suspension of the season for violating the NFL’s substance abuse program, the league announced today. Pennel had been suing the league over a discrepancy in the appeal process, but he dropped that suit yesterday and came to an agreement via the appeal procedure, as Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.Mike Pennel (Vertical)

[RELATED: Julius Peppers Non-Committal On 2017]

Pennel, 25, could have been facing a 10-game ban as a result of a second failed drug test, but evidently negotiated that suspension down to four contests through meetings with the league. In his lawsuit against the NFL, Pennel contended the league only intended to provide two neutral arbitrators instead of the standard three-to-five, and asked that the entire appeal hearing is put on hold until the NFL appoints a third arbitrator.

In eight games this season Pennel has notched 103 defensive snaps as a rotational lineman behind starters Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, and Datone Jones. Signed only through 2016 at the minimum salary, Pennel will miss out on his base salary for the remainder of the year and will also forfeit the applicable prorated amount of his signing bonus.

Pennel’s suspension will begin immediately, meaning he will be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season. He will miss games against the Seahawks, Bears, Vikings, and Lions.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.