Falcons add LB Peterson


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ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Falcons took the first step toward revamping their linebacker corps on Tuesday morning, reaching an agreement with unrestricted free agent Mike Peterson.

Peterson 32, will sign a two-year contract, league sources confirmed; financial details were not immediately available. Peterson visited with team officials and coaches on Monday and Tuesday.

The contract reunites Peterson, a 10-year veteran, with Atlanta coach Mike Smith, who served as Peterson's defensive coordinator with the Jacksonville Jaguars. It also provides the Falcons a versatile veteran, who should compete for one of the outside linebacker spots.

Peterson began his career at outside linebacker, playing there for four seasons for the Indianapolis Colts. When he signed with Jacksonville as a free agent in 2003, he shifted to middle linebacker, where he has started ever since, even though he was considered undersized.

The Falcons have a starting middle linebacker they like in second-year veteran Curtis Lofton, who is coming off a strong rookie campaign.

But the team lost outside linebackers Keith Brooking (Dallas) and Michael Boley (New York Giants) in free agency. The Falcons' only current outside 'backer with much experience is Coy Wire, a part-time starter who replaced Boley in the lineup for the second half of 2008.

Last season, Peterson fell out of favor with Jacksonville coach Jack Del Rio, and the Jaguars did not attempt to retain him in free agency.

Peterson, who played at Florida, was a second-round choice of the Colts in 1999. For his career, Peterson has played in 137 games, with 127 starts. He has 745 tackles with a high of 137 tackles in 2002, and he registered 100 or more tackles in four straight seasons (2002-2005).

Peterson also has 19½ sacks, 15 interceptions and 22 passes defensed.
Looks like a nice pick up by the Falcons. Seems a step in the right direction to get them back into the post season.