The Eagles have agreed to terms with Michael Vick on a 1-year contract with a 1-year option, team president Joe Banner confirmed tonight.
The flashy lefthanded quarterback has not played in the NFL since the 2006 season. He served 18 months of a 23-month sentence in federal prison on dogfighting charges. Vick was drafted by the Atlanta Falcons in 2001 and played six seasons. He led the Falcons to the NFC Championship Game in the 2004 season. Atlanta lost the Eagles at the Linc in that game, 27-10.
Vick, 29, was released from federal prison on May 20 and was released from federal custody on July 20. On July 27, he was conditionally reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
As part of the reinstatement, Vick will be eligible to play in the final two preseason games. That means Vick could play for the Eagles on Aug. 27 at the Linc against Jacksonville. Once the NFL regular season begins, Vick can participate in all team activities except games and the commissioner said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6, if not sooner. The Eagles are at Oakland that week.
After the Eagles' loss to New England in tonight's preseason opener, coach Andy Reid spoke about the decision to sign Vick.
"I'm a believer as long as people go through the right process they deserve a second chance," Reid said. "We've done a tremendous amount of homework on this. He's got some great people in his corner and proven that he is on the right track, in the commissioner and Tony Dungy."
Reid said he spoke with Dungy and has spoken with Vick a number of times. Owner Jeffrey Lurie also met with Vick, Reid said. He also said Donovan McNabb was involved in the process. Vick and McNabb have been friendly since Vick was a high school player in Virginia and McNabb was the Syracuse quarterback.
Reid also said he has been following Vick closely in light of the legal problems that his sons have had.
"I wanted to make sure I know where he is at and I feel like he is in a good place," Reid said. "I'm a very excited, on the other side of that, to have a good football player. You're talking one of the top quarterbacks in the league when he was playing. He's familiar with our offense, having run it the last few years with Atlanta before he was incarcerated."
"There won't be a quarterback controversy," Reid said. "That is not how it will go down here. We have to make sure he gets back in football shape."
Asked if there might be ways to use Vick other than at quarterback, Reid said, "He's a quarterback. That's what he is. He's a versatile quarterback. I haven't had a chance to put that all together, but I have some ideas."
McNabb said about Vick: "I'm a dog lover and I've had dogs all my life. I've looked past that and everybody else should, too."
McNabb also said that Vick has explained his situation to the Eagles. "He has expressed it to us and to Roger Goodell and the rest of his NFL fraternity will be behind him 100 percent," McNabb said.
Fox Sports reported Vick will make $1.6 million in 2009 and he could make $5.2 million in 2010, the option year.
In an interview to be shown Sunday night on CBS' "60 Minutes," Vick said the dogfights were "wrong" and he feels badly about participating in them. He also said that he deserves to have lost all he did. Vick filed for bankruptcy in July 2008.
"Everybody we talked to said the same thing, that he was remorseful and that he had gone through an incredible transformation, that he was basically good at heart," Banner told the Daily News. "We heard this over and over again from people who felt he deserved a second chance."
The Eagles could face a public backlash over the signing of Vick.
"Philadelphia is a city of dog lovers and, most particularly, pit-bull lovers," said Sue Cosby, who heads the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. "To root for someone who participated in the hanging, drowning, electrocution and shooting of dogs will be impossible for many, no matter how much we would all like to see the Eagles go all the way."
Vick's legal problems began in April 2007, when police raided his Virginia property and found evidence of neglected pit bulls and dogfighting. On July 17, 2007, a federal grand jury in Richmond charged Vick and three others with conspiring to engage in competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines.
On Aug. 24, 2007, Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely without pay. On Aug. 27, Vick pled guilty. On Dec. 10, 2007, Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison.