Friday, June 12, 2009
Unable to make trade, Falcons cut Vick
ESPN.com news services
ATLANTA -- Quarterback Michael Vick's time with the Atlanta Falcons is officially over.
Vick, who is serving the remainder of his prison sentence on dogfighting charges under house arrest in Virginia, was released by the team Friday.
Before Friday's announcement -- a move that clears Vick to sign with any NFL team -- general manager Thomas Dimitroff called the team's former franchise player.
Dimitroff said Vick, who has missed two seasons while serving a prison sentence for running a dogfighting ring, deserved to hear first about his release. He said Vick "was upbeat" in the short conversation and was looking forward to moving on.
"Respect him as an individual and as an athlete in this profession. It was the right thing to do and I'm happy that we had a conversation today."
Dimitroff said releasing Vick allows the Falcons "to have a clean slate going into the summer" and allows Vick the freedom to negotiate with other teams.
"I think what we thought about a lot was going into the summer, having a clean slate, not talking about this a lot and not having this be any sort of an issue at all, for Michael, for us," Dimitroff said. "It was about being positive. It was about moving forward."
Vick is eligible to immediately sign with a team even though he has not been reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Falcons have been trying to trade Vick for months, but found no takers. Instead of holding on to him and hoping that someone would step forward with a trade, they chose to put the Vick era behind them.
The move was no surprise. Owner Arthur Blank has said Vick would not return to the Falcons.
"Everybody always knew that Mike wouldn't be playing with the Falcons," Vick's agent, Joel Segal, said. "He's really just taking it one day at a time."
The NFL had no comment on Vick's release.
Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts said the team's release of Vick opens the door for other NFL teams to talk with the quarterback. Roberts said Vick can sign with another team even before Goodell decides on clearing the way for Vick to play.
Goodell has not committed to reinstating Vick after the quarterback completes his 23-month sentence on July 20 for running a dogfighting ring. Vick has been in home confinement since leaving federal prison in Kansas on May 20.
Even while making it clear Vick had no football future with the Falcons, Blank has said he would be available to assist Vick. As an organization Atlanta has turned the page since drafting quarterback Matt Ryan, who went on to become the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year last season.
Vick still will cost the Falcons $6.4 million in salary-cap space.
Vick was the figurehead for the Falcons and, as a dual-threat quarterback, was one of the NFL's most dynamic stars from 2001 to 2006 before his sudden downfall.
Goodell said last month he would not make a decision on Vick before the end of his sentence.
"Once he's concluded that, I will make a judgment based on what he tells me and what I can determine from speaking to others and a final background check on this and make a determination at the right time," Goodell said.
Speculation about Vick's NFL future started even before his release from the Falcons.
Jim Mora, whose Vick-led team advanced to the NFC Championship Game in 2003, said this week he doesn't expect Vick to find a job with his Seattle team.
"I'll just say this for the record: We are very happy with the quarterbacks we have on our roster," Mora said. "We have no intentions of adding another player to our roster at this time. ... Just cut out the 'at this time,' because then people will speculate for the next three months. We have no intentions of adding a quarterback to our roster."
Even as he hopes for reinstatement from Goodell and begins his search for another NFL home, Vick faces other pressing priorities, including his crumbled finances.
On Tuesday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Santoro set a July 2 deadline for Vick to submit a revised Chapter 11 plan. A hearing to confirm or reject the plan was set for Aug. 27.
Santoro said that if the new plan fails to address the shortcomings that prompted him to reject the first one in April, he will appoint an independent trustee to take over management of Vick's finances.
Information from ESPN.com NFC South blogger Pat Yasinskas and The Associated Press was used in this report.