As Michael Vick and the Eagles prepare to take on the Cowboys Sunday night, the question of what the franchise will do at quarterback in 2011 and beyond continues to be a hot topic.
Andrew Brandt, president of the National Football Post, joined me to answer some questions about Vick's contract situation and how things might play out after the season.
Now that I've had some time to think about it, here are four thoughts on Vick's contract situation and his future with the Eagles:
1. The Eagles have the control. What I mean is, if they decide they want Vick to be their quarterback going forward, Vick will be here. And the reason for that is simple: the franchise tag.
No one's sure how the offseason will play out or even if there will be football played in 2011. But Andrew explained to me that he can't see a scenario where there is football, but no franchise tag in play. Assuming the Eagles want Vick back, my guess is they'd prefer to work out a longer-term deal. But they hold the franchise tag in their back pocket. They can tag Vick and eliminate any opportunities he might have with other teams. They can use the tag as leverage in negotiations. Or they can place it on Vick and then proceed to work on a longer-term deal. He's set to become a free agent, but Vick really doesn't have a lot of freedom in terms of where he plays. If the Eagles want him back, they've got him.
2. From Vick's perspective, it makes sense to continue this next stage of his career with the Eagles. Sure, there's the whole loyalty thing, considering the Eagles were the team gave him a second chance. But let's put that aside for the moment. From a football perspective, staying with Andy Reid, Marty Mornhinweg and the Eagles makes the most sense for Vick.
I'm not sure we've properly grasped how different this year has been for him as a passer from his days with the Falcons. In 71 career starts before 2010, Vick had thrown for 250 yards or more a total of six times. This season alone, he's thrown for 250-plus six times. Vick had two 300-yard games on his resume prior to 2010. He's thrown for 300 or more in three of his last four. Vick's completing 63.8 percent of his passes and averaging 8.4 yards per attempt. His previous career highs were 56.4 percent and 7.2 in 2004.
And his QB rating is 105.7; previous best was 81.6 in 2002.
There has been a dramatic difference. Vick deserves most of the credit for dedicating himself, but Reid and Mornhinweg have shown they know how to coach and mold quarterbacks. And don't forget that the Eagles have some of the best, young talent in the league at the other offensive skill positions. If Vick is serious about creating a new legacy as an NFL quarterback in the second phase of his career, the Eagles are the best fit.
3. There's too much talk about a "hometown discount." I really don't think this is going to be an issue. The Eagles have let many veterans walk in the past, but they've also shown that when they really want a player, they have no problem paying up. If they decide they want Vick to be their quarterback for the next era of Eagles football, the Birds should be able to propose a deal that works for both sides. Don't get me wrong. Money is a huge part of this - maybe even moreso than normal, given Vick's current financial situation (detailed well in this ESPN.com article). But, the Eagles don't really gain anything by low-balling Vick. Expect them to make a fair offer if they want him long-term.
4. I am wrong about many things, but I think I was right about one Vick-related item. Back when Reid named him the starter, I argued that it wasn't really a "win-now" move, and that it had long-term implications in terms of the direction this franchise was headed. It's looking like that is very much going to be the case, and Reid knew that when he made the call. Turning to Vick in September created the possibility that he would play well and that the Eagles would have no choice but to bring him back in 2011 and beyond as their starter. And well, that's exactly how it's played out.
As for Kevin Kolb, don't be so quick to usher him out of town. He's owed only $1.4M in 2011. That means two things. One, there's no reason for the Eagles to trade him unless they're blown away by a deal. Kolb provides great insurance for Vick and has shown he's capable of winning games with this team. And two, as of right now, the Eagles have very little money committed to the quarterback position for next season. In other words, they can afford to pay Vick a significant number in 2011 - whether it be in the form of a new contract or the franchise tag.