The Cincinnati Bengals signed one of their most recognizable players on and off the field, Domata Peko, to a two-year extension this week.
The signing of Peko looks to be one of many deals coming for the Bengals, who are going to be signing a lot of their own talent to new deals by next season. The club is looking to sign quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver AJ Green, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict to new contracts by the end of the season, if not before the end of this season.
Peko has been a staple in the Bengals defense since he was drafted in 2006. By signing him to an extension, the Bengals solidified their team with not only a great leader, but a versatile player as well.
Last season, Peko would often appear on the offensive side of the ball on short yardage plays as a fullback. He told Bengals.com that by signing his extension he is “the highest paid fullback in the NFL.” Giving Peko the extension is just another example of how the Bengals have been able to put together a solid team without having to trade for their talent. For the majority of Marvin Lewis’s time with the Bengals, their talent has been home grown.
If the Bengals want to continue to be a playoff team, they need to keep their solid defense consistent, especially with the departure of defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer to the head coaching job of the Minnesota Vikings and defensive lineman Michael Johnson to Tampa Bay. Peko is the definition of consistent, as he has only missed five starts in his eight season with the Bengals. Cincinnati needs someone who can keep this defense together and playing at the same level as it did under Zimmer, and Peko is just the guy to do that. Peko played under Zimmer the entire time Zimmer was with the Bengals. If anyone will be able to instill Zimmer’s hard working mentality into this defense it would be Peko.
Peko has been one of the main reasons the Bengals defense has been a top 10 unit in the NFL the past few seasons. Teams have a difficult time running the ball up the middle when big man Peko is there to clog it up.
The Bengals want to get the show on the road with getting their other key starters to sign their extensions. There is no doubt that AJ Green will be signed, but some have doubts about Dalton. Some say he should play out the final year of his rookie contract and earn his extension by getting the Bengals their first playoff win in over 20 years. I think that no matter how Dalton performs this year, the Bengals will give him the extension because he is the only one who gives them a legitimate shot at being a contender year after year.
For Cincinnati, the rest of this offseason is going to be about securing their key players, and they took a step in the right direction by getting Peko’s deal done on Thursday.