The AJC reports that free agent linebacker Mike Peterson, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, is set to visit the Falcons later this week, with no specific date. Peterson is an experienced veteran that has a connection to the current Falcons coaching staff since head coach Mike Smith and several assistants were assistants in Jacksonville from five seasons prior to landing in Atlanta in 2008.
Peterson, 32, has served as the Jaguars starting linebacker for the past six seasons. His production has declined sharply in the past three seasons. During his first three seasons (2003-05) in Jacksonville, he averaged 120 tackles annually, and totaled 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, 4 fumble recoveries, 16 passes defended, and 6 interceptions. In the past three seasons (2006-08), he has averaged 62 tackles annually, total 3 sacks, no forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 4 passes defended, and 2 interceptions. Part of the decline in production has come from injuries, having missed a combined 17 games in 2006 and 2007. He was also benched for a time last season for clashing with the Jaguars coaching staff.
Prior to joining Jacksonville, he played four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, serving as an outside linebacker. Due to the strong play of rookie Curtis Lofton last year, it would seem likely that the Falcons are looking for Peterson to return to his former position on the outside. The Falcons have lost both starting outside linebackers, Keith Brooking and Michael Boley, this off-season and looking for replacements. Peterson spent most of his Colt career playing the weakside, just like Brooking.