Michael Vick benched for season, where’s he going next?
Andy Reid announced Monday, one day after his team lost to the Cowboys to fall to 3-9, that Nick Foles will be Philadelphia’s starting QB for the rest of the season. The Eagles had been waiting (or, at least, appeared to be waiting) for Michael Vick to reclaim his starting job after missing three games with a concussion.
With Reid almost certainly on his way out after the season, and speculation already swirling about Vick’s future, this development definitely points toward Vick wearing a new uniform in 2013.
Vick signed a six-year, $100 million contract with Philadelphia in August of 2011 but, as if often the case in the NFL, that contract is not quite what it seems.
The final year of the deal ($20 million in 2016) voided when Vick played more than 35 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last season. And only $32.5 of that initial contract was guaranteed; another $3 million injury clause, would lock in if Vick remains on the roster after Feb. 9, 2013.
Otherwise? Philadelphia can save nearly $13 million in cap space next season by sending Vick packing.
So, if Vick winds up a free agent next offseason, where might he turn? Here are a few options, some better than others:
• Buffalo Bills: When Chan Gailey took over as Bills head coach in 2010, there were reports that he was interested in bringing Vick to Buffalo. Why? Gailey’s had success in the past helping mobile QBs thrive, one of the reason some believed Vince Young would stick with the Bills this season.
Bills GM Buddy Nix also said earlier this season that he plans to draft a quarterback come next April, a pretty good indication that Ryan Fitzpatrick’s days are numbered. Buffalo can sneak out from under Fitzpatrick’s big contract, too, so this might be a real possibility.
• New York Jets: The contract extension handed to Mark Sanchez prior to 2012 makes this an extremely unlikely marriage. Unless Vick opts to take backup QB money, the Jets probably won’t be able to afford both guys.
Otherwise, you could see a fit here — the Jets need a shot in the arm on offense, and Vick offers the type of non-traditional skills that attracted the Jets to Tim Tebow. Sanchez’s situation is enough of a headache already, however, without adding Vick to the mix. As it is, Rex Ryan is not sure if Sanchez should continue starting over Greg McElroy, who delivered a win in relief Sunday, or Tebow.
• Kansas City Chiefs: Brady Quinn played very well in an emotional Week 13 win, but the Chiefs badly need to find a long-term answer at quarterback. The writing has long been on the wall for Matt Cassel, who entered the season as the No. 1 guy. Put Vick in an offense with Jamaal Charles and a couple of talented receivers, and maybe Kansas City could crank up the speed on a painful rebuilding project.
• Jacksonville Jaguars: Will Jacksonville give Blaine Gabbert another year to develop? He’s on IR currently, with Chad Henne adding a little pep to the offense. But is this a quarterback controversy waiting to happen or simply Jacksonville trying to survive this season with two subpar options?
The Jaguars are stuck in quicksand at the moment, having only minimal building blocks in place to trot out in front of a dwindling fan base. Let’s say new owner Shad Khan wants to give his franchise a boost — on the field and in the stands. Adding Vick would help both spots, even if bringing him in would mean giving up on Gabbert.
• Minnesota Vikings: Christian Ponder’s rough outings — like one he had Sunday in Green Bay — have outweighed the positive ones, with those duds coming at a much quicker rate lately. So, the Vikings are back to asking questions about Ponder’s future as the franchise quarterback.
Minnesota also has not shied away from adding big-name QBs late in their careers (see: Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre). Vick together with Adrian Peterson and Percy Harvin, behind an offensive line that’s much better than the one he has in Philadelphia? Kind of a scary thought for NFC North defensive coordinators.
• Arizona Cardinals: The Cardinals flirted with Peyton Manning for a spell last summer, remember, so they would not hesitate to go in a different direction. Nor do they need to worry about money — Kevin Kolb’s $63 million contract included just $12 million guaranteed and John Skelton makes peanuts. Adding a guy like Vick might make for a happier Larry Fitzgerald, too. The Cardinals’ talented receiver has not benefited at all from Ryan Lindley’s recent promotion to No. 1 QB, and Lindley is struggling mightily in that role.
Of course, Arizona’s offensive line might be even worse than Philly’s …
• Baltimore Ravens: A massive long shot. Like a 16-seed vs. a No. 1 in the NCAA Tournament. But …
The Ravens face a decision on Joe Flacco this coming offseason. If Baltimore can’t (or opts not to) sign Flacco to a long-term contract, it could use the franchise tag on him. Is Flacco worth top-five QB money, though? Plan B would be to let Flacco hit the market and go hunting for a new quarterback, which could lead the Ravens to a guy like Vick.
Days like Sunday, when Flacco was outplayed by Charlie Batch at home, could make up Baltimore’s mind.
• Oakland Raiders: This whole Carson Palmer thing isn’t working, is it? Oakland GM Reggie McKenzie came on after the franchise traded for Palmer, so he might be itching for a shot to go his own way. And the Raiders, who will be up against the cap next offseason, could save more than $5 million by cutting Palmer. Of course, those cap issues might eliminate any Vick pursuits.