While much of the current free agency chatter surrounding the Kansas City Chiefs involves star DT Chris Jones, who will reportedly be franchise tagged by the team in the coming weeks, the Chiefs must make decisions on a number of key free agents in the defensive front seven. Among the group are veteran OLB Terrell Suggs, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Damien Wilson and DT Mike Pennel.
After coming on as a midseason signing in 2019, the 28-year-old Pennel established himself as a key contributor along a banged-up defensive front, including two postseason starts and an important pass deflection in Super Bowl LIV.
According to FanSided national NFL reporter Matt Verderame, representatives for the sixth-year defensive lineman are scheduled to meet with Chiefs executives this week during the NFL Scouting Combine.
At 6’4,” 330-pounds, Pennel’s brute strength makes him an intimidating run-stuffing presence, a trait which was on full display down the stretch last season. In eight regular season games, Pennel compiled 24 total tackles and his second-career sack. Following a 31-24 loss to the Green Bay Packers in his Week 8 team debut, the Chiefs won all 10 games in which Pennel played, including the postseason.
Pennel, who outplayed the one-year, $850K contract he signed with Kansas City in early October 2019, is likely headed toward a pay increase on his next deal. The veteran defensive tackle signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract with the New York Jets in March 2018 and a two-year, $5 million contract with the New England Patriots last offseason. Surprisingly, Pennel failed to make it out of his first preseason with the Patriots as Bill Belichick and company parted ways with the freshly signed free agent in late August. Should both sides agree to a reunion in 2020, Pennel’s previous deals could serve as a baseline for compensation.
Chiefs to Meet With Another Impending Free Agent
With the Scouting Combine in session and the opening of free agency quickly approaching on March 18, the Chiefs’ front office continues to do extensive groundwork behind the scenes. Per Verderame, Pennel isn’t the only free agent-to-be Kansas City will speak to this week. Veteran G/C Stefen Wisniewski, who played 11 games (two starts) for the team in 2019, primarily in a reserve role, is also on the list.
The 30-year-old chipped in on special teams and played 210 snaps on offense last season – approximately 20 percent of the team’s total offensive plays. He signed a one-year, $930K deal in October after being cut by the Philadelphia Eagles prior to the start of the regular season. Wisnieski spent the three years prior in Philadelphia following a one-year stop in Jacksonville in 2015. The 6’3,” 305-pound lineman was originally drafted in the second round (No. 48 overall) by the Oakland Raiders in 2011, where he spent the first four years of his career as a starting center.
Despite limited salary cap space, the Chiefs should still have a reasonable opportunity to retain Wisnieski. However, the front office is unlikely to allow itself deep into a bidding war for his services, especially if teams with ample spending allowance, such as the New York Jets, come calling.
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