Atlanta Falcons  


Ex-Jags LB Peterson signs two-year deal with Falcons, reunites with Smith

  • By Associated Press
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FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- The Atlanta Falcons bulked up their depleted linebacker corps Tuesday by signing free agent Mike Peterson. senior writer Steve Wyche reports that the deal is for two years. Financial terms weren't disclosed.

Mike Peterson, LB
Atlanta Falcons

2008 Statistics
Games/Starts: 15/10
Tackles: 84
Sacks: 1

Peterson will be reunited with Falcons head coach Mike Smith, who previously served as defensive coordinator in Jacksonville from 2003 to 2007. Peterson, 32, played the last six seasons with the Jaguars after starting his 10-year NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts.

"Mike is a very sound, versatile linebacker who has gained plenty of experience and knowledge over his 10-year career," Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said in a statement released by the team. "He is the type of player who will lead the team on the field and in the locker room."

Atlanta was looking for a veteran at linebacker after losing five-time Pro Bowl selection Keith Brooking to the Dallas Cowboys and Michael Boley, who started much of last season on the strong side, to the New York Giants. The only full-time starter still on the Falcons' roster is middle linebacker Curtis Lofton, a rookie last season.

Peterson's days in Jacksonville were numbered after he ran afoul of Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio last year. The linebacker was sent home twice for insubordination, fined $10,000 and benched for a game during Jacksonville's disappointing 5-11 season.

Their problems started when Del Rio criticized the team captain during a meeting for his muscle-flexing celebration after a sack at Cincinnati. Peterson tried to defend himself, but Del Rio already had told the players he didn't want to hear any excuses.

"I had the pleasure of coaching Mike for five seasons in Jacksonville," Smith said in the statement. "He is a passionate player who brings a great deal of intensity to the game."

Peterson, who visited the Falcons on Monday and quickly worked out a deal, said he was excited to be reunited with Smith.

"This is definitely a place that I wanted to be," Peterson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I know what's expected from coach Smith. That was a big factor in me signing with the Falcons."

Peterson shrugged off his bitter split with Del Rio.

"I'm just ready to put that behind me," Peterson said. "I think it was blown out of proportion. It was just two guys who wanted to win. To me, that's history, and I'm looking forward to my time here in Atlanta."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press


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