On Monday, August 26th, the New England Patriots informed veteran defensive tackle, Mike Pennel, that he would be released. After being signed on the first day of free agency by the Patriots, Pennel had the most upside of all the new acquisitions. Why was he released and what does it mean for the team?
Mike Pennel’s Background
Pennel is a 28-year-old defensive tackle that formerly played for the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets. At 6’4, 330 pounds, Pennel is a monster of a man. In his career, Pennel has played 69 career games, starting 15 of them. He recorded 1 sack, 102 total tackles (65 solo, 37 assisted) with 6 of them being tackles for a loss in his 5-year career.
Why Was Pennel Released?
As stated earlier, Pennel was expected to become a big part of the Patriots team this season. He was the clear-cut number one nose tackle for the Patriots, with the struggling Danny Shelton as his closest competition. But to start camp, he didn’t shine much. Quickly, Shelton began gaining on Pennel and, eventually, started taking reps with the other Patriots defensive starters as the top nose tackle.
It became even more apparent that Pennel was losing ground when preseason came along. Shelton continued to play with the other starters and was pulled quickly to avoid injury. Meanwhile, Pennel would play late into preseason games with some of the roster bubble and “longshot” players.
Basically, Pennel went from what many would consider a roster lock to a potential rotational player that may or may not make the team. Then, just as quickly as he lost his “lock” status, he was placed firmly on the roster bubble, what with guys like Byron Cowart being uber-impressive and taking advantage of every opportunity.
What Does This Mean For Other Patriots Players?
For one, it immediately suggests that Shelton will be the Patriots number one nose tackle and a roster lock. Lawrence Guy and Adam Butler also are included as locks, with Guy as the top defensive tackle and Butler being a real good run stopper.
It also opens the door for Byron Cowart. The impressive rookie defensive tackle, that can also play on the defensive ends, has everything to gain from this release. With how impressive he’s looked, it’s ultimately his spot to lose.
Some “longshots” also gain from this loss. For one, Ufomba Kamalu. The 26-year-old Kamalu can play anywhere on the line and even drop back to play linebacker. His size (6’6, 295 Ibs) allows him to play defensive tackle. He is athletic enough to rush on the defensive ends and even drop back into coverage as a linebacker. He could be granted the back-up nose tackle role behind Shelton with Pennel’s release.
Another “longshot” is David Parry. Parry is a 27-year-old defensive tackle that is a bit of a journeyman. He has played for the Colts, Saints and Vikings before being signed by the Patriots this off-season. Though he is arguably the lowest defensive tackle on the depth chart, Parry fits the mold better than Kamalu does, physically, to be a nose-tackle. At 6’2, 315 pounds, Parry is what is known as a prototypical Patriots nose tackle. Depending on what Belichick wants to do, he can keep one of Kamalu and Parry either on the 53-man roster or practice squad. The one thing holding Parry back? He is not practice squad eligible like Kamalu and would have to be on the 53-man roster to stick around.
All stats via NFL.com
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