- Chris Sprow, ESPN Insider
By Week 1 of the 2013 season, Michael Vick will be 33 years old. He will have completed 10 NFL seasons but just a single season in which he started 16 games. That season was 2006. According to Football Outsiders' Similarity Scores metric, the most similar NFL season in more than three decades to the one Vick has put up in 2012 is Donovan McNabb's in 2009. That season was notable for McNabb for two reasons: (1) it was the last season he was considered a viable NFL starter, after completing 10 NFL seasons himself; and (2) it was the season after which the Eagles decided they needed to make a quarterback change.
They signed Vick.
Like McNabb in 2009, this will be Vick's last season in Philly. Also like McNabb after 2009, it won't be his last NFL season. What it should be is the last time a team signs him with the expectation that he can be a full-time starter, immune to competition for the job. You could defend Vick's 2012 performance; you could say that in a season in which the Eagles lost four starters on the offensive line to injury, he was doomed. He wasn't able to use his legs to create plays, only to run for his life. According to Pro Football Focus, Vick has seen pressure on 42.9 percent of dropbacks this season, a higher rate than any other NFL QB. But that's deceiving, because Vick has always seen pressure, because the tape and the numbers show a QB who doesn't see open targets early and hangs onto the ball too long. Last season, behind a healthier O-line, Vick also led the league pressure percentage.
A dozen years since he was drafted, Vick has never really found a rhythm or the ability to diagnose defenses early and simply take what's there. But again, this won't be his last NFL season, and there are a number of teams that could use him on their rosters, with no expectations. Finally, Vick could become a value.
Here are five options for Vick next season:
The situation: Sounds weird, huh? But consider the bigger picture. Even as they seek an NFL title, the 49ers are in the midst of a transition. Colin Kaepernick seems assured the starting role to start the 2013 season, not because he's a huge upgrade over Alex Smith, but because economics dictate it. If Smith remains on the 49ers' roster in 2013, it'll cost the team $10 million. That's not a figure the 49ers will be willing to pay for a player who could head into camp as the backup.