Does the addition of Domata Peko provide enough firepower to make the Denver Broncos’ defensive line one of the best in the league?
On March 11 the Denver Broncos signed Domata Peko to a two-year, $7.5 million deal to fill the gap Sylvester Williams left when he departed from the team during free agency. Williams signed with the Tennessee Titans to a three-year, $17.5 million deal.
Peko played his collegiate career at Michigan State where he accumulated 33 solo tackles and one sack during his senior season. He showcased his athleticism when he outran Michigan’s entire offense for a 74-yard touchdown return after a fumble recovery.
The Cincinnati Bengals drafted Peko in the fourth round of the 2006 NFL Draft. He started all 16 games in 2007, accumulating 36 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Since then, he had been a tremendous asset for the Bengals, making a total of 265 tackles and 18.5 sacks during his 11-year stay with the team. His ability to control the line of scrimmage and keep the gaps clean for the linebackers to read the offensive line and the ball carrier, allowed the Bengals defense become one of the top defensive units in the AFC.
Peko is currently 32 years old and is considered a short term option for the team until they find a talented young prospect to plug into the middle of the defense. The Denver Broncos signed him to a two-year deal, which is an indicator that the team thinks of him as a gatekeeper until they find a long-term option.
His veteran presence along with his ability to stuff the run will allow Brandon Marshall, Todd Davis and the other linebackers to cleanly get through the line of scrimmage to tackle the ball carrier. He will add stability to the defensive line due to his ability to stay healthy, considering since he hasn’t missed a game since 2009.
The downside with Peko is that he’s a depreciating asset due to his age and wear and tear. His best years are behind him and it’s hard to tell what he has left in the tank. He’s no longer a full-time player, considering he only played 54.6 percent of the defensive snaps last year in Cincinnati. The team will need to make sure the back end of the roster is ready to step in at a moments notice, because Peko doesn’t have the stamina anymore to own a large market share of the defensive snap count.
I think Peko was a good signing for the Broncos. Sylvester Williams was going to cost the franchise too much money to resign, which created massive void for the team to fill on the defensive line. With Peko, the team gets a very talented player at a palatable price tag. He has a lot of experience and the team has a good feeling with what they are going to get with him. He’s a professional and has been in the NFL for a very long time, so it shouldn’t take him long to get acclimated to Denver’s system.
There’s a good chance that we could experience a decrease in his overall skill set, due to age and the likelihood that his body could potentially breakdown on him. However, for the price tag, he provides a lot of talent to the defensive unit and could become an impact player for team this year.
Peko is a crafty veteran who has 11 seasons under his belt. Due to the sheer nature of his position, he’s not going to put up a lot of numbers in the box score, but he provides a different element when it comes stuffing the run and opening up lanes for the linebackers to make tackles. He might be on the downturn of his career, but he should have enough left in the tank to help elevate the defense in 2017.