Commentary

Free agency: Michael Vick's options

Veteran can step in and win games or provide mentoring for QB-needy teams

Originally Published: March 8, 2014
By Ashley Fox | ESPN.com

Michael Vick isn't sweating it. He isn't stressed out about his impending free agency. He isn't overly concerned about his immediate future.

Vick knows he will get an opportunity to play again. He knows he should get an opportunity to compete for a starting job. The free-agent quarterback market is thin, and the draft does not include any can't-miss prospects.

[+] EnlargeMichael Vick
Maddie Meyer/Getty ImagesA weak free-agent market for QBs will help Michael Vick find a new home if he bids adieu to Philly.

There are teams in need of a starting quarterback with few viable options. Vick is one. Then there are the newcomers in the draft: Blake Bortles, Johnny Manziel and Teddy Bridgewater, in no particular order.

Vick gives a needy team the best chance to win immediately. He isn't a long-term solution, but he is a quick fix, a Band-Aid and, potentially, a bridge to the future. He can step in and play for as long as he can stay healthy -- always an enormous caveat when Vick is concerned -- and simultaneously mentor a younger quarterback.

That reality is keeping the 34-year-old Vick calm, sane and, all things considered, relatively at ease as the start of free agency on Tuesday approaches.

"He's definitely grateful, because he knows he's going to play," someone close to Vick told me this week.

Where remains the biggest question.

Conventional wisdom is that Vick could land with the New York Jets because the Jets' offensive coordinator, Marty Mornhinweg, worked with Vick in Philadelphia. Mornhinweg was the Eagles' offensive coordinator in 2009, the season Philadelphia shocked the NFL and signed Vick to a contract after he'd spent 548 days in a federal prison for dog fighting.

Mornhinweg was there every day with Vick. He observed Vick in meetings. He worked with him on the field. He spent day after day trying to teach Vick the intricacies of the position that Vick had never paid attention to when he was in Atlanta.

And, like so many others, Mornhinweg fell in love with Vick's strong left arm.

He saw Vick's strengths in 2010, when Vick supplanted Kevin Kolb, became the Eagles starter early in the season and then led Philadelphia to the playoffs.

Over the course of four seasons, Mornhinweg also saw Vick's limitations, how he wouldn't stay in the pocket but would try to make something out of nothing, which often led to an injury, a turnover or worse.

So, yes, it is possible Mornhinweg wants to work with Vick again, but it's also possible his experience with Vick would lead him to encourage the Jets not to sign Vick.

The Oakland Raiders are certainly a viable option. The Raiders' quarterback of the present or the future is not on the roster. Neither are a lot of other positions.

What about the other QB-needy teams? Well, the Houston Texans don't seem like a good fit. The Cleveland Browns will likely draft a quarterback. The Jacksonville Jaguars just re-signed Chad Henne.

What Vick cares about, according to someone close to him, is that he gets an opportunity to compete for the starting job. That's the first priority. The second, less important priority, is the location of the team he decides the join.

"So many factors play into it that you can really only make a decision when real written offers are in front of you," the person said.

And that is true. That also assumes there will be multiple offers for Vick, which might not be the case.

But, as is the case with the draft and free agency, it takes only one team to covet a player. It takes only one team to want someone badly enough to make a play. It takes only one to fall in love, to misjudge the market and to pay or, in the player's best-case scenario, overpay.

Whatever team decides to make a run at Vick -- and, surely, there will be one -- will get a player who is dedicated to earning a starting position. Vick cares. He wants one more shot. He knows he has more football days behind him than in front of him.

Vick also proved during his time in Philadelphia that he could be a viable backup. He can be a mentor to a younger quarterback. He is a team guy. It is not all about him.

So Vick should get another shot. What seems clear at the moment is he isn't overly worried about where or when it will come.

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