American Football

Former Lions DT John Penisini is unretiring, now a free agent


Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Detroit Lions
Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images

Detroit Lions 2020 sixth-round pick John Penisini is unretiring and is a free agent free to sign with any team.

This week, a curious transaction appeared on the daily NFL wire. Back on Wednesday, the Detroit Lions waived former sixth-round pick John Penisini from the reserve/retirement list. It’s a curious transaction because a year ago, Penisini retired from the NFL. There would be no reason to change Penisini’s status unless he intends on returning to the league.

Pride of Detroit has since confirmed that Penisini does, indeed, intend to unretire from the NFL. Because he was still under contract when he initially retired back in 2022, the Lions held his rights. But Detroit officially waived him this week and no other teams claimed him. He is now an unrestricted free agent able to continue his NFL career with any team.

While Penisini never gave a clear reason as to why he retired from the game of football, he did deal with some serious injuries during his two years in Detroit. Lions coach Dan Campbell explained a gruesome injury the defensive tackle had during his rookie season.

“John Penisini had what looked like softballs in his shoulder that he had repaired after the season after the fact,” Campbell said in July of 2021. “It just looked like a bunch of calcium deposits that had been in there. You wonder why when you watch the film last year why he’s not using his arm. It’s because he had issues. It’s a credit to him playing through it and all of those things.”

The Lions happen to have a need at defensive tackle, but it’s unclear if the Lions really have an interest in bringing Penisini back. That would seem unlikely, as Pensini was drafted by the previous regime, and the fact that the Lions released him from his previous, affordable contract suggests they’re at least letting him test the market.

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