Another former Green Bay Packers player will be crossing the rivalry lines and joining the Chicago Bears for the 2022 season.
Bears general manager Ryan Poles announced on Monday, June 13, that the team had signed former Packers nose tackle Mike Pennel to a free-agent contract, bringing the 31-year-old back to the NFC North after he spent his first three seasons in Green Bay.
The Bears have now signed a number of former Packers players to their 90-man roster, including guys from Green Bay’s 2021 roster such as offensive guard/center Lucas Patrick and wide receivers Equanimeous St. Brown and David Moore. Chicago also hired away former Packers quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy as their new offensive coordinator,
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Suspensions Ended Pennel’s Stint With Packers
The Packers originally signed Pennel as an undrafted free agent out of the 2014 NFL draft and saw him develop into a rotational contributor for their defensive line, playing in 37 games over his three years with the team. He delivered his best season in 2015 when he played in all 16 games and tallied 25 total tackles and his first career sack.
Unfortunately, Pennel ran into some trouble with the NFL after two seasons with the Packers. He was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and then received a second suspension for the same type of violation that cost him the final four games of the season, leading the Packers to officially part ways with him in January 2017.
Pennel has since played two seasons each with the New York Jets (2017-18) and Kansas City Chiefs (2019-20) and most recently served as a rotational piece for the Atlanta Falcons’ defensive line during the 2021 season. He has appeared in 64 games with 11 starts since leaving Green Bay and recorded total of 136 tackles, 81 of which were solo.
Packers Looking Strong at DT for 2022
The Packers might recognize a familiar face on the Bears’ defensive line this season, but it seems unlikely they will feel any regret about how things played out given they have Kenny Clark manning the middle of their defense. Clark, who played all 16 games as a rookie in 2016, quickly turned Pennel into an afterthought in 2017 when he stepped into the role of full-time starter. Now, he is a two-time Pro Bowler and a true centerpiece of their defense with game-wrecking ability.
The Packers have also added some significant depth behind and around Clark over the past year or so. They drafted T.J. Slaton last year and got some quality reps out of him as a rotational man on the inside. They also used one of their first-round picks in this year’s draft to acquire former Georgia defensive tackle Devonte Wyatt and signed veteran Jarran Reed as a free agent, adding more quality depth to the trenches. In terms of talent, the Packers’ defensive line room is far superior to when Pennel was on the roster.
The real question — one that cannot be answered until the games actually begin — is whether the Packers have finally invested enough resources in their defensive line to consider it a championship-caliber unit. Only time will tell on that one.