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Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Free-agent dossier: Michael Vick

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- We could start our look at the Philadelphia Eagles' impending free agents anywhere. This recent report, however, makes Michael Vick seem as good a place as any.

The New York Jets' potential interest in Vick is understandable on every level. The Jets fell off the map after two consecutive trips to the AFC championship game. Head coach Rex Ryan can only have so many chances left to get his team back to that level. He will need a quarterback to do it before time runs out.

Vick
Vick
Mark Sanchez, who is coming off shoulder surgery and is due $9 million for 2014, probably is not going to be that guy.

Geno Smith, the second-round draft pick from last year, deserves a chance to develop into a franchise quarterback. But Smith's rookie season did not summon memories of Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson from the 2012 draft class. Smith threw 12 touchdowns and 21 interceptions in 2013, although he finished relatively strong.

A quick fix could be Ryan's best option, and no one is as compelling a quick-fix candidate as Vick.

The 33-year-old was having a good, but not great season for the Eagles before pulling a hamstring on Oct. 6 against the New York Giants. Vick's injury opened the door for Nick Foles, and Foles seized the opportunity.

Would Vick have been effective if he'd remained the starter in coach Chip Kelly's first season? There is reason to believe he would have. Before the injury, Vick had one poor outing in his first four starts in a radically new offensive system. He played very well in the season opener at Washington and a 33-30 home loss to San Diego.

Vick and the Eagles were overrun by the Kansas City Chiefs on a short week. He was fine in a no-chance loss in Denver. Before getting hurt against the Giants, Vick had made several big plays with his legs. The Eagles were winning, 16-7, when Vick was injured late in the first half.

Foles took the starting job with his performance after that, just as Vick had won it outright with a superb preseason showing. At season's end, Vick said he wanted to be a starter in the two or three years of high-quality football he felt he had left.

Of course, any team that signs Vick has to deal with the possible fan backlash. Although Eagles fans came to terms with Vick's history, he still turns up at the top of surveys designed to find the NFL's most disliked players.

He would probably have an easier time in the uniquely large and diverse New York market. In football terms, Vick would be reunited with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, who held that title for Vick's first four season with the Eagles. Mornhinweg would be as well-equipped as any coach in the league to get the most out of Vick at this late stage in his career.

There are other possible fits, of course. Vick could find a starting job in Oakland, Jacksonville, Minnesota or Tampa Bay. He could compete with, and serve as a veteran stopgap for, a rookie draft pick in any of those cities.

As for his chances of returning to Philadelphia, it is always possible. But with Foles entrenched as the starter, Matt Barkley in-house as his backup and a draft class full of possible developmental quarterbacks, it feels as if Vick's time here is done.