Falcons pay Peterson like a starter

Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas

Just got the numbers on Mike Peterson's deal with Atlanta and they're pretty interesting.

Peterson didn't get the one-year deal you'd expect for a 32-year-old linebacker on the downside of his career. He got a two-year deal that could be worth as much as $6.6 million. That's a pretty good indication that the Falcons plan to use Peterson as a starter.

That's a little bit of a gamble. Peterson's spent much of his career as a middle linebacker. The Falcons are set there with Curtis Lofton and they apparently will shift Peterson to the outside after letting Keith Brooking and Michael Boley walk in free agency.

I know coach Mike Smith has a history with Peterson in Jacksonville and knows his abilities. But you have to wonder how much Peterson has left and how he'll handle a move to the outside? I'm not sure that Peterson is any better than Brooking at this point in their careers.

Brooking got a four-year deal in Dallas that averages $2.6 million. In other words, the Falcons could have kept Brooking for less money than it took them to get Peterson. Yes, Brooking struggled at times last season, but I'm not sure Peterson will be an upgrade.