Monday, August 29, 2011
Eagles and Vick, for better or for worse
By Dan Graziano
The Philadelphia Eagles and star quarterback Michael Vick have agreed on a six-year, $100 million contract with $40 million in guarantees, ESPN's Andrew Brandt and Adam Schefter are reporting. It's obviously the culmination of a remarkable comeback story for Vick, who was in prison on dogfighting charges three years ago, third on the Eagles' quarterback depth chart two years ago and a backup to Kevin Kolb at this time last year.
Many, including myself, have written extensively on Vick's shockingly rapid redemption story, and surely many more will in the next 24 to 48 hours. But my first thought was that this speaks loudly about the way the Eagles right now are managing their franchise: Everything they do revolves around and depends on Vick.
For example: the idea that this might affect the Eagles' efforts to sign star receiver DeSean Jackson to a long-term contract. Jackson is upset enough with his very low ($650,000) salary that he held out of the beginning of training camp, and he's made it clear he'd like a new deal before he becomes a free agent at the end of this season. So there was thought in some circles that the Eagles might have to do a Vick deal in order to free short-term money for Jackson. Vick's salary-cap number had been a little more than $16 million under the franchise tag, and the thought was that knocking that number way down would allow them to give Jackson a 2011 salary more in line with his status among the league's top wideouts.
But Brandt reports Vick's salary-cap number in 2011 drops only to $14.4 million under the terms of the new deal. So, while that likely leaves the Eagles about $4 million under the cap even with all the free-agent signings they made late last month, it's not a significant enough savings to indicate they're about to make a big-splash deal with Jackson.
More likely, this deal is about Vick and the Eagles' decision to hitch their wagon to his mercurial star in spite of his risky style of play and his proximity in time to his legal troubles. Everything the Eagles have done since the lockout ended indicates they are determined to take advantage of Vick's window, however long it stays open.
The Eagles don't -- and can't -- know how long Vick will last or continue to perform at the level that he did last season. What they do know is that, when he does, they have a weapon for which other teams have no answer. And because of that -- because of what Vick is at his very best -- the Eagles have decided he's worth building around and, apparently, investing in. The Eagles have been consistently excellent winners under Andy Reid, but they've yet to win a Super Bowl with him as coach, a fact of which he and his staff are keenly aware. By latching onto Vick to the extent that they have, they've announced their belief that he's the thing that can set them apart from the pack far enough to finally make it happen.
Time will tell whether they're right, but when Kolb got injured in Week 1 last season and Vick took over for him, Reid found a lottery ticket. And he's going to do everything he can do to make sure he gets to cash it.