Mild-mannered Corey Peters has measured approach to free agency

Corey Peters has a plan.

When his football career is over, the Atlanta Falcons defensive lineman hopes to establish a charter school and possibly become the principal or head counselor there. He is working toward his goal now, finishing up his final semester of online courses offered by Michigan State University to achieve his master's in education.

"That would be my way of giving back," Peters said of the charter school. "I'm sure I'm going to do something in the school system."

But Peters is in no rush to begin his new profession. At age 26, he still has plenty of good NFL years left in him. That's why Peters should be a valued commodity on the free-agent market, if he doesn't re-sign with the Falcons.

It is unclear exactly where the Falcons and Peters stand at this point, but there have been ongoing discussions between both parties. Peters signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract to remain with the Falcons last season coming off an Achilles tear. He will attract strong interest from more than a handful of teams if he reaches free agency, based on the buzz at this year's NFL combine. He's also fully healthy this offseason, which should only enhance his case.

Peters has had a conversation with Falcons coach Dan Quinn.

"It was just an introductory call," Peters said. "It was quick. I just know that everybody seems to have a lot of respect for him. They all seem to love him. I've talked to several players that have played under him. I've never heard anybody say a bad thing about him."

Peters definitely would fit in the new defensive scheme. Quinn preaches how his players need to have versatility, and Peters has shown the ability to play inside and on the edge. Quinn wants his defensive tackles to be pass-rushers, too, and Peters has seven sacks over the last two seasons and 11 for his career.

Despite the defensive woes the Falcons had last season, Peters made the most of his opportunities. He finished with 26 tackles, two sacks, six tackles for losses and five quarterback hits in 511 snaps played. He had his best effort in a 56-14 win over Tampa Bay, finishing with a sack, four tackles for losses and two quarterback hits. He also was a difference-maker in a starting role in place of Paul Soliai during a 29-18 win over Arizona.

Not to mention Peters is an asset in the locker room. He is slated to represent the Falcons on March 16 as this year's recipient of the Ed Block Courage award, as voted by his teammates.

So how much is Peters worth? His agent, Greg Linton, could argue that Peters was more valuable than Tyson Jackson, who was brought in at $5 million per year to stuff the run but fell far below expectations. But the Falcons, in turn, probably would want Peters at half the price.

However it all unfolds, Peters refuses to stress himself out about negotiations.

"I'm excited and anxious just to see how everything plays out," Peters said. "I feel good about the process and look forward to whatever may come of it.

"I think it's important to look at the entire body of work. I think through the course of my career, I've had setbacks but I've continued to make improvements. And I look to continue to do that moving forward. I have enough tape to evaluate. I'm just looking forward to the opportunity to continue to my career."