Article originally published at Cincinnati.com.
Eight years ago, Domata Peko couldn’t have imagined as a Samoan rookie fourth-round pick out of Michigan State he’d be inking a deal to keep him in Cincinnati for three more seasons.
Yet, he did just that Thursday. Peko officially signed his two-year extension keeping the 29-year-old in Cincinnati through 2016. He was entering the final year of his previous contract.
The news brought smiles to Bengals coaches who love his leadership and consistency, but those smiles weren’t as prevalent as Peko’s sons.
“I had a talk with my kids about waiting it out and see what happens or told them there’s a chance to stay here for three more years,” Peko said. “They said, hands down, we want to stay, we don’t want to leave.”
Peko has grown into one of the most popular Bengals players in recent history, and said agreeing to this contract came as a mutual decision in discussions between the two sides for a while.
“It feels really good to feel wanted,” Peko said. “Going into my last year, I had some uncertainties about moving my family away and where we’d be. Thankfully Mr. (Mike) Brown and his family believed in me.”
Peko led the defensive line in tackles four of the last six seasons. He holds the active team mark for consecutive starts (108). Some of his best work has come off the field as a central figure of the team’s leadership.
During the lockout in 2010, Peko and Andrew Whitworth were the impetus behind group workouts held by the players while the new CBA was negotiated. Marvin Lewis recently called last year the best leadership group he’s coached in Cincinnati.
“When I first got here lot of guys were getting arrested and stuff, now the locker room is one of the best in the league,” he said. “To see the transformation and be a part of it is really a blessing.”