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Black and Teal Legends: Counting Down the Top Twenty-Five Jaguars of All-Time (#16)

We continue our list of the Top-25 Jaguars of all-time. As we trickle towards our top fifteen players, the debate is likely to increase in terms of placement and not necessarily names. Vince Manuwai received a little over half the vote, 54%, for those who felt #17 was the correct spot for him on our countdown. I was surprised to see some outcry for Chris Naeole, as I don't feel like Manuwai and Naeole are even in the same league in terms of play. That's the beauty of this list though.

On to the #16 ranked player. I will say I flip flopped between this guy and our #15 player a few times, before concluding that franchise impact would be the tiebreaker.

That said, here it is...

#16. Mike Peterson, LB, 2003-2008

Mike Peterson was well known to Jaguars fans when he joined the team as the first "big name" free agent of the Del Rio/Harris Era, in the 2003 off-season. A stalwart for the hated Indianapolis Colts, and a former University of Florida star, the addition of Peterson was welcomed and during most of his stint with the team, "Mike Pete" was everything Jag fans could've asked for.

Starting every game at middle linebacker in his first three seasons with the team, Peterson became the centerpiece of Del Rio's revamped defensive juggernaut. He brought a swagger and toughness, along with veteran leadership, to a group of mostly young players trying to come together as a unit.

In his first three seasons, from '03-'05, Peterson recorded 360 total tackles, 12 sacks, 6 interceptions, and 5 forced fumbles, the best performance of any middle linebacker in franchise history over a three year span. His 2005 season was All-Pro caliber and helped propel the team back to the post-season for the first time since 1999. He recorded 132 total tackles, with 6 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles. Peterson broke his wrist at the end of the regular season that year, but despite the injury, he played in the team's Wild Card game with a full-arm cast wrapped on him. He wasn't as effective with the cast, but his grit and determination was a sight to see. Despite his outstanding regular season performance that year, Peterson was not elected to the Pro Bowl or the All-Pro team, likely due to the limited visibility he had playing in Jacksonville. Outside of Ray Lewis and perhaps one or two others, there was no better middle linebacker in the NFL over this three year period.

As has been the fallout for many of the past Jaguars on this list, injuries began to take a toll on Peterson's play and ability to stay on the field. He only appeared in 30 more games as a Jaguar over the next three seasons, '06-'08, and when he was on the field his play wasn't near what it was in the beginning of his Jaguars career. Following a verbal dispute with Del Rio over an alleged backlash from the head coach towards Peterson's celebration of a play during a loss, Peterson was released from the team. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons in the 2009 off-season, and was not re-signed by the team. He's currently an unrestricted free agent.

Peterson finished his Jaguars career fourth all-time in tackles and, surprisingly, interceptions. tied for fourteenth in sacks, and eleventh in passes defended.

The Top-25 List:

#25. Aaron Beasley, CB, 1996-2001

#24. Bryan Barker, P, 1995-2000

#23. Donovin Darius, S, 1998-2006

#22. David Garrard, QB, 2002-2010

#21. Josh Scobee, K, 2004-Present

#20. Kyle Brady, TE, 1999-2006

#19. Kevin Hardy, LB, 1996-2001

#18. Brad Meester, C, 2000-Present

#17. Vince Manuwai, G, 2003-2010

#16. Mike Peterson, LB, 2003-2008