We continue our countdown of the 2018 Jets roster by looking at defensive lineman Mike Pennel.
Name: Mike Pennel
Year with Jets: 2nd
Projected Role: Rotational defensive lineman/primary backup
His 2017: The Jets made the unusual move of claiming Pennel off waivers from Green Bay in February despite the fact he was weeks away from hitting free agency. Pennel was coming off a season where he was twice suspended to it seemed possible the Jets wanted to get a closer look before deciding whether to offer him a contract. The team apparently liked what it saw, and Pennel re-signed in March.
Most people probably remember Pennel’s 2017 season as a negative because his most memorable play was a costly roughing the passer penalty on Cam Newton during the fourth quarter of the Jets’ loss to the Panthers.
On the whole, however, Pennel did solid work as a rotational defensive lineman. In the first chapter of this series with Steve McLendon, we discussed run stops. These are tackles that result in a rushing play being unsuccessful for the offense. Pennel had a tackle for a stop on 9.8% of his run snaps, tied for eighth best among tackles in the league according to PFF.
The Jets gave him a 3 year, $10.5 million contract as a result.
It seems to me like Mike Maccagnan gets a lot of credit for some pretty marginal moves. This is the opposite. It was a really good pickup that a lot of people didn’t notice so I’ll do the job. Good move, Mac.
2018 will be a success if: Pennel plays like someone capable of starting.
One of the best ways to tell what a team thinks about a player is to look at the resources invested. A $3.5 million per year contract is a decent investment in a starting interior lineman, much less a backup.
The starting front three for the Jets will be Henry Anderson, Leonard Williams, and Steve McLendon. Giving Pennel this type of money shows that the team will likely use him frequently as a rotational guy and likely will be the first to step into the starting lineup in case of injury. The team could view him as starter number 3.5. He needs to play well enough to justify that move.
Odds of making the roster: The Jets liked Pennel enough to give him a decent contract, and he would cost more against the cap to cut than to keep. This makes him a Lock (>99%).