Posted February 11, 2013

Michael Vick, Eagles find a mutually beneficial middle ground

Philadelphia Eagles
Michael Vick is taking less money to remain in Philadelphia. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Michael Vick is taking less money to remain in Philadelphia. (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Michael Vick has a shot.

That is, in a nutshell, all we know for sure about Vick’s standing with the Philadelphia Eagles, on the heels of Monday’s news that Vick had agreed to restructure his contract essentially down to one year and up to $10 million.

New Eagles head coach Chip Kelly has made it very clear that he intends to examine all of his options at quarterback — and he was adamant that he did not need a “running” QB to execute his offense.

So Vick, even with a roster spot in Philadelphia seemingly secure for 2013, still will have to prove he can deliver what Kelly is looking for. If he can’t, then the Eagles will turn to Nick Foles, Ravens practice squadder Dennis Dixon (a Kelly protegee at Oregon) or some unknown fourth option, and Vick will walk away following next season.

But, for the moment, this looks like it is Vick’s spot to lose.

His skill set, even if it has begun to decline at age 32, makes him an intriguing option in Kelly’s attack. With LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown at running back and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin out wide, Vick will have some weapons with which to work.

At his best, Vick is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback, with the arm to stretch the field in Kelly’s multi-layered offense. Should he display that potential during camp and the preseason, rather than the injury-plagued and turnover-prone Vick that Andy Reid was saddled with, the Eagles’ offense could reach new heights next season.

The promising possibilities of a Vick-run offense must have piqued Kelly’s interest more than an uninspiring free-agent QB market (Alex Smith would top the list, if he’s released) and a middling draft class.

The Eagles did make very clear in their announcement of Vick’s restructured contract that he “will compete for a role on the team” and that “Kelly is also excited about” Foles.

Foles was pressed into duty in 2012, during his rookie season, and delivered a decent if unspectacular performance down the stretch. Unless some team comes calling with an offer Philadelphia cannot refuse, there is no reason for the franchise to kick the promising QB to the curb, even if he plays a different style than Vick does or any of Kelly’s recent Oregon quarterbacks did.

Still, it’s hard to argue that Foles has any sort of leg up in the race right now.

Vick must have sensed that dynamic as well — his previous contract would have made him at least $5 million more in 2013, so he easily could have kept the Eagles on the hook and forced them to release him. A quick scan of the league’s QB landscape, though, does not unveil another situation with as much upside for Vick.

Rather than try to latch on somewhere else and risk compressing his abilities into a more conservative offense, Vick opted to rework his contract and take a chance on Kelly’s unique approach.

There is minimal downside for Vick on this one. He now has one season to prove that he can be Kelly’s guy … and if he fails, he’s right back in the same spot — in need of a new team.

And in the meantime, the Eagles extend their window for Vick’s evaluation. Regardless, Philadelphia was going to take a decent-sized financial hit; this move minimizes that jolt, while also providing Kelly a longer look at Vick’s fit within the offense.

Either it works and the Eagles’ offense thrives next season or both sides simply go back to the drawing board.

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