The Green Bay Packers’ defensive line is about to get a little thinner once again.
Defensive tackle Mike Pennel served a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season after a drug test uncovered a violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy. In November, Pennel reportedly was informed that he had failed another test and began the appeal process. However, Pennel filed a lawsuit regarding the appeal, requesting an independently-appointed arbitrator and saying that his case’s original arbitrator was “improperly assigned.”
If the case were ruled against Pennel, he would have been subject to a ten-game suspension as part of the terms of the league’s policy for second-time offenders.
Instead, Pennel has reportedly come to a settlement with the NFL:
Packers DL Mike Pennel settled his appeal/lawsuit over a violation of the substance-abuse policy, sources say. Will serve 4-game suspension.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) December 6, 2016
This works in Pennel’s favor, as he has his suspension reduced by six games. However, this four-game suspension will kick in immediately, leaving the Packers shorthanded on the defensive line for the remainder of the regular season. The only remaining linemen on the roster are Mike Daniels, Letroy Guion, Kenny Clark, Dean Lowry, and Christian Ringo. Ringo in particular will likely take on a bigger role, as he has been inactive most weeks. The Packers could call up rookie tackle Brian Price from the practice squad to fill the vacancy; Price was brought up for one game early this season and was later released and placed back on the practice squad after clearing waivers.
Pennel’s eight-game 2016 season was not full of impact plays, but rather valuable rotational snaps on the Packers’ interior line. He recorded seven total tackles this season, including a big tackle for loss on Sunday against the Texans, and added a pass deflection.
Stay tuned to find out how the Packers will fill their new open roster spot.