CINCINNATI - Are the Bengals in rebuild mode a la the Reds?
The Bengals lost another bedrock of their recent five-year playoff run Saturday when DT Domata Peko followed T Andrew Whitworth out the door. Peko, 32, reportedly agreed to a two-year, $7.5 million deal with the Broncos, with $3.8 million guaranteed.
The popular veteran is the third starter to leave the Bengals since free agency began Thursday, following Whitworth (Rams) and G Kevin Zeitler (Browns).
So, who's next? Maybe RB Rex Burkhead?
Per espn, Rex Burkhead was in Atlanta today checking out the Falcons @WCPO
— Ken Broo (@kenbroo) March 11, 2017
Under the circumstances, it seems fair to ask if Mike Brown is even trying to keep them. Or if the players who can are jumping ship - not just for the money - but because they see a bleak future here.
Free agency, or graduation as Marvin Lewis calls it, hitting especially hard in CIN this year.
— Keenan Singleton (@KJMSingleton) March 11, 2017
If the Bengals think they can contend next season, wouldn't they have put the franchise tag on Zeitler? Or even Whitworth? I can see why not Whitworth or Peko, but lose all three?
Peko didn't get the big money that Zeiter ($60 million) and Whitworth ($31.5 million) got, so even though he's aging, you have to wonder if the Bengals aren't just clearing the decks for a five-year rebuilding stage, like the Reds. Or if Peko just saw a chance to finish his career on a contender and not a team coming off a 6-9-1 season with little hope for jumping back into the playoff race this year.
Peko, who had played his entire 11-year NFL career with Cincinnati, had played every game in 10 of 11 seasons after coming to the Bengals as a fourth-round pick from Michigan State. And he had started every game in nine of the last 10.
Peko wasn't just a solid run stopper, he was a locker room leader like Whitworth and a fan favorite.
— Blair (@Blurrsy) March 11, 2017
Besides Burkhead, here are Bengals' unrestricted free agents who haven't already taken the money and run:
- CB Chykie Brown
- LB Karlos Dansby
- DE Wallace Gilberry
- DE Margus Hunt
- HB Cedric Peerman
C/G T.J. Johnson is a restricted FA, so he can negotiate with other teams, but the Bengals can keep him by matching any offer.
So far the Bengals have re-signed three unrestricted FAs, CB Dre Kirkpatrick (for $52.5 million), WR Brandon LaFell and T Eric Winston.
BTW, Kirkpatrick says former Bengals T Andre Smith might want to come back, but Smith was reported to be visiting the Bills Saturday.
What do you bid, Cincinnati?
Last guy out, turn off the lights.