The Cincinnati Bengals continue to say goodbye to their veterans. The Denver Broncos, an earlier suitor of Andrew Whitworth, agreed to terms today on a 2-year contract with Domata Peko.
Peko was a fourth-round pick of the Bengals in 2006. Over an 11-year career in Cincinnati, the Michigan State product was a durable and vocal leader. Peko hasn’t missed a start since 2009. That year was the only season the 32-year-old didn’t play all 16 games.
The move may sting some Bengals’ fans, considering Peko was a community leader and an all-around class-act. The “Domata Peko Foundation” donates over $150,000 every year in the greater Cincinnati area.
But the move comes at a time where the Bengals are looking to get younger at certain positions. Both at offensive and defensive tackle. The Rams signed Whitworth until age 38 and Denver locked Peko to a deal worth nearly $8 million. Peko and Whitworth were the two longest-tenured Bengals, each coming from the 2006 class.
Peko had his lowest amount of tackles (35) for a full season in 2015. He followed that with just 37 tackles last season and was held without a sack for just the second time in his career.
Peko is just one season removed from a career-high five sacks in ’15, helping lead the Bengals to a division title. His season-high five tackles last year came against Denver in week 3.
Peko yields to youth
Cincinnati has younger talent at the position that needs to see the field sooner rather than later. Andrew Billings missed all of 2016 due to injury. The consensus is that Billings, who just turned 21 last Monday, is fit to start alongside Geno Atkins, a five-time Pro-Bowler.
That rotation would also include Marcus Hardison, a fourth-round pick in 2015 who has yet to see the field.
Peko now joins his cousin, Kyle Peko, on Denver’s defensive line. Kyle went undrafted out of Oregon State and played in one game last year.
Denver also signed defensive end Zach Kerr, who spent the last three seasons in Indianapolis. John Elway is definitely trying to revamp his defensive line. The Broncos ranked 28th against the run last season, giving up 130 yards-per-game on the ground.