By Matt Derrick
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Defensive tackle Mike Pennel reinvigorated his career upon his midseason arrival in Kansas City, and the pending free agent hopes to extend his stay with the Chiefs.
“I definitely would like to stay here,” Pennel said after an autograph signing appearance Tuesday night. “I know this is a place where I work well with the coaches, I love the fan base, I love the city, my family stays out here. I know it’s a business but I’ve told my agents and I’ve told everybody in the Kansas City Chiefs organization I’d love to be back.”
Pennel said he felt the Chiefs wanted him back following his exit interview with head coach Andy Reid.
“Exit interviews are easy when you win a Super Bowl, I’ve never been a part of that,” Pennel said. “It was short and sweet but the general consensus was they would like to have me back.”
The 28-year-old veteran spent the first five seasons of his career with Green Bay and the New York Jets before signing a two-year free-agent deal with New England last March. Things didn’t seem to click with the Patriots, however, and the club released him in August.
Pennel spent nearly two months on the sidelines before Chiefs general manager Brett Veach came calling. Injuries left the club’s defensive line depth in a precarious position, and the Chiefs signed Pennel to a one-year deal worth $805,000.
The 28-year-old nearly put up career highs across the board in 2019 despite playing just eight regular-season games with the Chiefs. He collected 24 combined tackles while picking up the second sack of his career. The Chiefs lost to Green Bay in his first game with the club but didn’t lose again the rest of way with Pennel in the lineup, a string of 10-straight wins including the postseason.
Veach said during Super Bowl week that Pennel’s emergence as a leader in the locker room turned out as a pleasant surprise upon his arrival.
“When we acquired him we knew he’d be able to provide some quality interior run depth and play in there but I think the one thing that surprised us was he’s like quickly gelled into a character in that room,” Veach said.
Pennel’s play during the second half of the season and during the Super Bowl run should enhance his free-agent value but he made it clear his priority is staying in Kansas City.
“Just for everything that they did reviving my career,” Pennel said, “this being one of my favorite teams and working with the coaching staff and everybody that’s in the city, I think for me as long as I want to play and the few more years I want to play, I think it would be the best opportunity to play here.”
Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com and a contributor for Sports Radio 810 WHB. Follow him on Twitter @mattderrick.