Mike Pennel hasn't wasted time getting back in the grind following the Chiefs' 31-20 win over the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.
Sure, the Chiefs defensive tackle used some down time to see family and he's participating in autograph sessions around the Kansas City metro area, such as Tuesday night's event with Chiefs long snapper James Winchester at MO Sports in Liberty.
Pennel, though, isn't about rest and relaxation given his first taste of a championship in six professional seasons. Instead, he's already immersed himself in offseason workouts to prepare for the upcoming season with an eye at another Super Bowl.
"I got to get ready," Pennel said. "I want another one. This is nice."
Whether Pennel, who turns 29 on May 9, has the opportunity to pursue a second championship ring with the Chiefs is the bigger question.
Pennel joined the Chiefs on Oct. 18 as a free agent on a one-year deal, which paid a base salary of $805,000, and will become an unrestricted free agent when the NFL's new calendar year begins March 18.
While he enters a period of uncertainty, there's little doubt what Pennel would prefer to see happen.
"I'd definitely like to stay here," Pennel said Tuesday night. "I know this is the place where I work well with the coaches, I love the fan base, I love the city and my family stays out here.
"I know it's a business, but I told my agents and I told everybody in the Kansas City Chiefs organization that I'd like to be back."
The Chiefs apparently reciprocate the feeling based on Pennel's exit interview, which he categorized as "positive."
"Exit meetings are easy when you win a Super Bowl," Pennel said. "I've never been a part of that, so it was short and sweet. But the general consensus was they'd like to have me back."
The Chiefs potentially securing the 6-foot-4, 330-pound Pennel's future service makes sense when considering his contributions in 2019.
Without Pennel for the first half of the season, the Chiefs' run defense allowed an average of 148.9 yards per game from Weeks 1 to 7.
But with Pennel involved as part of the interior defensive line rotation with Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and rookie Khalen Saunders, the Chiefs improved in the second half and allowed an average of 95.4 yards rushing per game from Weeks 13-17.
On the regular season, Pennel appeared in eight games, totaling 24 tackles, a sack, a quarterback hit and two tackles for a loss on 154 defensive snaps. In the Chiefs' three postseason games, Pennel totaled seven tackles and a quarterback hit, which occurred in the Super Bowl, on 52 defensive snaps.
His impact, however, went beyond the box score.
Pennel's ability to embrace the work in the trenches allowed other players like All-Pro safety Tyrann Mathieu to flow to ball carriers and make plays.
"I think anytime you have guys that are willing to be that guy to take on double teams, to do dirty work, it helps out guys like me because I can quarterback, I can fill routes and I can be me," Mathieu said of Pennel on Jan. 15 in advance of the AFC Championship Game. "So, I think the coaches have done a great job, obviously, putting certain guys in certain positions. And I think ultimately that's how we've been able to come together as a defense."
During the week leading to Super Bowl LIV in Miami, general manager Brett Veach echoed Mathieu's praise of Pennel's contributions.
"Mike's been huge in regards to the strength to our interior run defense, and playing stout and playing with leverage," Veach said on Jan. 29. "You can never have enough of those bodies, so when you have another guy that is talented as Mike, it's a big deal."
Meanwhile, Pennel, who was born in Topeka, Kansas, said he's enjoying an "amazing" and "surreal" experience as a Super Bowl champion.
It wasn't an easy path since he entered the league in 2014 as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers, where he spent 2014-16 before playing two seasons with the New York Jets in 2017-18.
Pennel spent the 2019 offseason with the New England Patriots, but was released in late August. He was out football until the Chiefs gave him an opportunity in October.
Now, he'd like nothing more than to stay put and help the Chiefs make another Super Bowl run for having faith in him.
"Just for everything they did reviving my career, this being one of my favorite teams and working well with the coaching staff and everybody in the city," Pennel said. "I think for me as long as I want to play, the few more years I want to play, I think it would be the best opportunity to play here."