Packers 2016 Recap: DT Mike Pennel

2016 Stats

  • Appeared in 8 games, 7 tackles, 1 pass deflection
  • Pro Football Focus: 73.3/100

Expectations coming into the season: High
Expectations were: Not met

Analysis: Two suspensions spells the end of Pennel’s time

The sudden retirement of B.J. Raji took a bite into the Packers depth on the defensive line, forcing the team to count on a big contribution from Pennel. Unfortunately, two suspensions bookending the 2016 season were too much to handle as Green Bay released him shortly after their Wild Card win against the Giants.

After earning a spot on the 53-man roster as an undrafted free agent in 2014, he had spent two seasons as a rotational player. By 2015, he had worked his way to around a quarter of the team’s defensive snaps. 

The 2016 season got off to a rocky start, as Pennel’s first suspension of the season was handed down in February. 

Raji’s retirement and the addition of a raw rookie in Kenny Clark meant Pennel had the chance to stick as a starter in the Packers’ base 3-4 defense. He struggled to work himself back into the rotation after returning from his suspension, never playing in more than a quarter of the defensive snaps in any of the eight games he appeared in.

Pennel was suspended once again for four games before the Packers played the Seahawks in December. 

“It’s disappointing,” head coach Mike McCarthy said after the news broke, “because Mike’s one of our guys. He’s part of our defensive line rotation. A rotation that’s been very healthy, especially since he’s come back. So it just really creates other opportunities for other players, and that’s the way we’ll go.”

With his roster spot open late in the season, Green Bay signed inside linebacker Jordan Tripp. After his second suspension ended at the conclusion of the Packers regular season, the team elected to release Pennel instead of finding a roster spot for him.