ENGLEWOOD, Colo. – The Denver Broncos have faced Domata Peko plenty over the past decade and believe the veteran defensive lineman has enough left in his football tank to help the Broncos repair their defense’s only significant flaw from this past season.
Peko, 32, is a physical presence and should help the Broncos' defense -- which finished No. 4 overall, No. 4 in scoring defense and No. 1 against the pass in 2016 -- improve its work against the run, where it finished 28th in the league.
Terms: 2 years, $7.5 million
Top 150 ranking: Not ranked
Grade: If Peko maintains his career profile and remains a reliable player, this is a solid B. He isn't a glamorous signing, but he’s a highly productive, unselfish player who has seemingly always been in the lineup in his career. He’ll turn 33 in November, so he’s a little outside the age range that John Elway, the Broncos' executive vice president of football operations/general manager, usually likes to maintain in free agency. But Peko is one of the most reliable players in the league, having played in 16 games in 10 of his 11 previous seasons. He’s started all 16 games in each of his past seven seasons.
What it means: Two Broncos defensive linemen -- Sylvester Williams and Vance Walker -- were unrestricted free agents, so it is a position of need. But Peko is just the kind of signing Elway likes to make after the initial wave of free agency has passed -- a proven starter who isn't signed in the initial frenzy when the market opens. Peko is a technically sound player who, season after season, has done the little things up front that any defense needs to control the line of scrimmage. Peko could play the left defensive end in the Broncos’ 3-4 front or move inside to the nose tackle spot in the team’s specialty packages in long-yardage down-and-distance situations.
What’s the risk: Peko’s history minimizes concerns over his age and the mileage on his physical odometer. He has played many high-impact snaps at the point of attack. But while 30 is just a number for most of the rest of the workaday world, Peko’s age is the only reason to pause at this. But again, his production and durability to this point make him as safe a financial bet as a 32-year-old player can be in the NFL.