Bengals: Domata Peko finishing his career in stripes only makes sense
Defensive tackle Domata Peko spending the last few years of his career with the Cincinnati Bengals is the perfect ending to his NFL tenure.
There are few players that have been able to elicit as much energy or fan enthusiasm as former Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Domata Peko. After spending 11 years in the Queen City, steadying the franchise through the ups and downs, he’s bounced around on two other teams for the past couple of seasons. Now, however, it appears that things are aligning for the 6’3, 325-pound force in the interior to make his return home.
As the Bengals gear up for training camp, they have suffered a blow to their defensive tackle depth in the past couple of days. First, Ryan Glasgow, a player that has shown flashes of brilliance, failed his physical, causing the team to waive him. Then, Josh Tupou, an underrated player that was set to play a big role in the team’s run defense, opted out of the season.
The unit is still strong at the top of the depth chart with D.J. Reader and Geno Atkins slated to terrorize opposing offensive lines. However, the strength of the defensive trenches can often be found in a solid rotation. If the Bengals are going to get the most out of their big-name players, they need to support them with appropriate complements.
That’s where Domata Peko comes in. Although 35-years-old, reports have come in that suggest the former fourth-round pick is in great shape. Couple that fact with his 208 games of experience and it’s easy to see why the two parties may be interested in a reunion.
How the Bengals can get the most out of Domata Peko
Peko recently had two solid seasons for the Denver Broncos in 2017 and 2018. According to Pro Football Focus, he earned grades of 78.4 and 70.8 for his performances in those respective campaigns. In the seasons on either side of those standout years, however, his grades dipped.
It’s notable that Denver was home to some of Peko’s best performances, more so than the Bengals or the Ravens. In order to get the most out of him, Cincinnati’s coaching staff should certainly attempt to emulate his situation with the Broncos.
To do that, managing his snap counts is a good place to start. In his final year with the Bengals, he played 593 downs, good for 55% of the total defensive plays. The very next season, he put up the best performance of his career. In that case, he played just 460 snaps, which was 47% of the defensive total.
At the age he’s at, it becomes even more important to keep him fresh and rested. The Bengals should have no problem doing that with Atkins and Reader in the picture.
The perfect ending for a Bengals legend
At the height of his time with the Bengals, Peko was apart of a 12 win season that resulted in a playoff appearance. At the worst, he was a member of a 4 win squad. Through the ups and downs, the energetic defensive lineman remained loyal to the franchise, but the pair never accomplished their ultimate goal.
As the Bengals enter a new era of football, it only seems right that Peko is there to usher them into it. The team is young and could certainly use an anchor to help them deal with the roller coaster ride that accompanies an NFL season.
Who knows, if Peko has a couple more years left in the tank, he could be apart of the team that ends the postseason drought for Cincinnati. For one of the most beloved players in franchise history, it would be the best ending to a long and successful career.