The Bengals signed defensive tackle Domata Peko to a five-year extension through the 2014 season the club announced Thursday. Peko is the third member of the defensive line to be signed long-term, joining defensive ends Robert Geathers and Antwan Odom. The Bengals signed Odom as an unrestricted free agent from Tennessee in March.
"Domata is a fine, young player who has fully proved his worth over the last two years and still has a tremendous upside," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a statement released by the team. "We are extremely pleased to have him signed to a long-term deal that ensures his future with our team. He has the ability to give us strong support against the run and good pass pressure up the middle."
Leo Goeas, Peko's agent, confirmed that the deal is worth a total of $30.3 million and includes $8.5 million in guaranteed money for the third-year player out of Michigan State. Peko's original contract still has two years remaining on it with the five additional years being tacked on.
"The fact that the Bengals came to us with two years remaining is an indication of how they feel about him," said Goeas. "Domata is just thankful and happy to be with the Bengals."
The Bengals selected Peko in the fourth round of the 2006 draft. He has played in all 32 games the past two seasons, including starting all 16 games last season. He was third among defensive linemen with 65 tackles last season, behind Justin Smith's 103 and Geathers' 69. Peko also had 1½ sacks and one pass breakup.
"I was talking to Jim Lippincott (director of football operations) when I was signing my contract today and I was telling him it seemed just like yesterday I was signing my rookie contract," said Peko. "To have played in 16 games as a rookie and start 16 games last year, I'm ready to step up as a leader on this defense."
Former Bengal Bryan Robinson was a big fan of Peko. Robinson, a 12-year veteran who signed with Arizona as an unrestricted free agent this offseason, often spoke in high praise of Peko in regards to his professionalism and work ethic.
"I'm going to call (Robinson) as soon as I take a shower," said Peko, fresh off of the practice field. "I've always looked to John Thornton as a big leader on this defense and right now I'm just trying to step into that role. Dhani Jones is also stepping up but it just feels like it is my turn to do that. It's not just the contract. During the OTAs I was trying to voice my opinion and not only lead by words but by example. Always be on time, don't ever miss a meeting and play hard every snap.
"That seems to fit me and I bet Troy (Blackburn) and Mike Brown noticed that and that's why I was rewarded with this contract."