Rapid Reaction: Michael Vick makes sense

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
7:05
PM ET
A few thoughts on the New York Jets' signing free-agent quarterback Michael Vick, who received a one-year, $5 million contract:

Vick
Vick
1. The right move: The Jets couldn't afford to leave themselves vulnerable at quarterback the way they did last season. They needed Geno Smith insurance, and Vick provides that. Going on 34, he's not the Vick of 2010, but he's still capable of winning games, if healthy. People forget he beat out Nick Foles last summer for the Philadelphia Eagles' starting job, eventually relinquishing it when he got hurt. General manager John Idzik, recognizing that Mark Sanchez has reached his New York expiration date, brought in the best available replacement. This cemented Sanchez's ouster.

2. Ready, set, compete: Obviously, the brass wants Smith to succeed, building on his promising finish last season, but this will probably be presented as an open competition. It'll make for a compelling training-camp battle: the talented, but unpolished, Smith versus the cagey vet looking for one last shot at glory. It brings back memories of Vinny Testaverde's arrival in 1998. If Smith buckles under the pressure, it'll tell the organization he's not their guy. Their hope is that Vick's presence, on and off the field, will elevate Smith to a higher level. They believe Vick can mentor Smith; he wouldn't have received that from Sanchez.

3. The Marty Factor: This doesn't happen without Marty Mornhinweg, the offensive coordinator. Because of Mornhinweg, the Jets had "inside knowledge" of Vick, according to Idzik. They wouldn't have signed one of the most polarizing players in NFL history if they didn't have someone on staff who knows Vick and what makes him tick. Mornhinweg and Vick spent four years together in Philadelphia from 2009 to 2012. His familiarity with Mornhinweg's system is another plus. It should make for a seamless transition, another reason for Smith to worry about his job. You can't accuse the Jets of babying Smith, a la Sanchez.

4. Potential risks: Vick's checkered past -- nearly two years in jail for his involvement in a dogfighting ring -- will surely be dredged up at the outset, perhaps even causing animal-rights activists to protest, but it will die down as long as Vick continues to carry himself in a mature fashion. This won't be similar to the Tim Tebow circus. Football wise, yes, it could spark a quarterback controversy, but it's worth the risk, especially for coach Rex Ryan, who might not survive another playoff-less season. Bottom line: Vick upgrades the position.

5. Depth chart: It means that Matt Simms, the No. 2 quarterback, will be knocked down to third string. The Jets like his potential, but they could draft a quarterback in the later rounds to provide competition.

6. Is D-Jax next?: The Jets reportedly inquired about Vick's former teammate, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who is said to be on the trading block. A lot of people are connecting the dots, speculating this means they will pursue Jackson, but the Jets were interested in Vick before Jackson became available. Trading for Jackson, who has a huge contract and character issues, would be a serious curveball by Idzik.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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