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Posted by ESPN.com's Pat Yasinskas
For months, it's been premature to speculate on Michael Vick's football future. Now that he's been released by the Atlanta Falcons, it's time to start.
|Howard Smith/US Presswire|
|The new United Football League remains an option for Michael Vick.|
Keep in mind, Vick still has to finish the home-confinement portion of his legal sentence. Also, he has not been reinstated by the NFL.
Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he won't reinstate Vick unless he believes the quarterback is truly remorseful. Even if Goodell reinstates Vick, that doesn't mean there will be a large parade of teams lining up for him.
We'll tell you right now Vick won't end up in the NFC South. The Falcons are glad he's finally behind them. Carolina owner Jerry Richardson wouldn't touch a player with Vick's past. Despite speculation the Saints might view Vick in a Wildcat role, they don't. They've got a real quarterback in Drew Brees and aren't going to take the ball out of his hands. Tampa Bay just spent a first-round pick on Josh Freeman and has declared him the franchise quarterback.
Look around the rest of the league and the options may be limited for Vick. Go ahead and speculate about Dallas and Oakland because the Cowboys and Raiders always seem to be willing to take chances on guys with a troubled past. There might be another team or two out there willing to take a chance on Vick.
But I also think, even if Vick is reinstated, NFL teams may take a collective pass in part because they might not want to deal with the controversy and protests that are sure to follow Vick.
That's why I'm going to say the most likely landing spot for Vick is the new United Football League. Officials and coaches in that league have been hinting Vick is welcome. Makes sense. The league needs a name and Vick needs a place to play.
I'll say Vick ends up with the Orlando franchise. First, Orlando has geographic first rights to any player cut by an NFC South or AFC South team. Second, Jim Haslett is the coach of the Orlando team. Haslett's on record saying he'd be interested in Vick and that Orlando would be a good place for him to restart his career. Haslett's also very familiar with Vick from their days playing against each other in the NFC South.
I say Vick spends this season in Orlando and returns to the NFL in 2010.