The saga that has been reported since Nov. 19 came to a conclusion Monday when the Arizona Cardinals announced the signing of veteran nose tackle Domata Peko to a contract. Terms and length of the deal were undisclosed, in accordance with team policy.
NFL Media's Ian Rapoport reported Monday that the deal guarantees Peko $600,000 for the regular season with a potential additional $300,000 in the playoffs.
The move reunites Peko with Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph, who the defensive lineman played under with the Denver Broncos from 2017-18 when he was the head coach there. Additionally, Joseph was the Cincinnati Bengals defensive backs coach during Peko's stint with the franchise through the 2014-15 seasons.
Additionally, Peko joins his former draft-mate and Cardinals cornerback Johnathan Joseph, who joined the Bengals as a first-round pick in 2006. Peko was taken in the fourth round by Cincinnati that year and the two played in the same Cincinnati defense from 2006-10, before Joseph moved on to the Houston Texans. Furthermore, Cardinals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick played with Peko with the Bengals from 2012 — when he entered the NFL as a first-round pick — through 2016, when Peko left for Denver.
"We're excited about the signing first and foremost," Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Monday. "[Joseph] has some history there. I've only met him today, but I've heard great things about his attitude, his energy and he's a guy who's played at a high level in this league for a long time. We'll see how he looks this week and see what he can handle and we're hopeful that he can contribute at some point moving forward."
NFL Media's Tom Pelissero reported in August that Peko, who turns 36-years-old Nov. 27, "turned down several free-agent offers" and was "focused on finding the right fit, city and chance to win," which he appears to have done with 6-4 Arizona.
The Cardinals are facing several injuries along the defensive front, which makes Peko's signing even more important. Nose tackle Corey Peters was lost for the season due to a knee injury, which Rapoport reported is a torn patellar tendon, suffered in Week 10 against the Buffalo Bills. Defensive tackles Zach Allen (ankle), Leki Fotu (ankle) and Jordan Phillips (hamstring) are all on reserve/injured, while nose tackle Rashard Lawrence (calf) had his 21-day evaluation period opened after being designated for return Nov. 11.
Peko has played 11 seasons with the Bengals, two with the Broncos and was with the Baltimore Ravens in 2019, where he played seven games with three starts.
During his 14-year career, the 6-foot-3, 335-pound Peko has played 208 games with 189 starts. In that time, he has accumulated 600 tackles (315 solo, 285 assisted), 50 quarterback hits, 47 tackles for loss, 20 sacks, 14 passes defensed, five fumble recoveries and three forced fumbles.
With Peko's signing, the Cardinals currently have four healthy defensive linemen on the active roster: Angelo Blackson, Trevon Coley and Josh Mauro.