Franchise tag awaits Vick
Eagles won’t let him go to free agency; neither side fretting yet about contract
PHILADELPHIA — The subject of Michael Vick’s expiring contract came up last week, as it invariably will continue to do as he stockpiles touchdowns and victories. Andy Reid said he hasn’t “ talked contract” with Vick, a fact Vick confirmed.
Here is why: Reid doesn’t have to. The plan is already in place. Vick will be back next year as long as he doesn’t do something stupid off the field. The Eagles are not going to let him reach free agency. They aren’t going to allow their investment to benefit any other team in the NFL.
Best-laid plans The best-laid plans can change, of course, especially in a league that is bracing for a possible work stoppage and in regard to a player who has a history of making bad choices. But if things remain status quo — Vick stays healthy and out of trouble, keeps playing well, and the Eagles keep winning — and the NFL and players’ union agree to a new collective bargaining agreement that includes, as expected, a franchise tag, the Eagles will franchise Vick. It likely will be their best option to keep a player who has exceeded even their most optimistic expectations with his stellar play this season.
In 2010, the franchise-tag value for quarterbacks, determined by the average of the top five quarterbacks’ salaries, was $ 16.4 million, a number that, according to ESPN. com, will be closer to $ 15.4 million in 2011.
Surely Vick would prefer a long-term contract with a significant signing bonus, but after making $ 1.6 million in 2009 and $ 5.2 million this season, $ 15 million wouldn’t be bad. And that could be just the beginning. Under the current system, teams can negotiate a contract extension with a player they have franchised. The New York Giants did that with Brandon Jacobs last year.
“ There will be a time and a place when that needs to be addressed, and we’ll address it,” Reid said last week when asked if the lack of a collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the players’ union was affecting the Eagles’ ability to re-sign Vick. “ It’s a crazy deal with the collective bargaining agreement and so on. We really haven’t done anything with anybody. It’s just a different year...
“ It is not because of Michael’s situation or his past. He’s making pretty good money this year. It’s not like he’s not making good money right now. It’s about the way the league is going right now, and so it’s hard to make those types of plans for the future.”
That is true. All teams and players are caught in a vortex caused by the labour unrest. Will the players strike? Will the owners lock out the players? Or will both sides realize they have too much to lose for there to be a work stoppage and come to an agreement?
The expectation is that a new agreement will give teams the option of franchising one player per season. The Eagles last used the franchise tag in 2008 to prevent L. J. Smith from becoming a free agent.
Vick claimed last week that he was not concerned about his expiring contract or his future.
“ I’m not really worried about that right now,” he said. “ I think it’s all going to take care of itself at the appropriate time. I totally understand, but I’m going to keep playing and try to put myself in the best position that I can possibly be in and let it take care of itself.”
That is the right approach, as long as Vick is sincere. We found out last week, courtesy of Sports Illustrated, that he had not really dedicated himself to being a true professional until last summer, after he hosted a birthday party for himself and got into a heated argument with a co-defendant in his dogfighting trial. Quanis Phillips was shot in the leg after the party, but authorities never determined who pulled the trigger.
Vick wasn’t there at the time, but nevertheless he was terrified he had blown his chance with the Eagles. He told SI, and reiterated last week, that that was the turning point for him to be 100 per cent dedicated and to end any foolishness.
Turning point You would have thought sitting in prison for 18 months would have provided the turning point, but apparently not.
Regardless, Vick is playing at a ridiculously high level. With a comefrom-behind win over the Giants last Sunday, Vick improved to 5-0 in games he has started and finished this season. He will get another tough test today against the Chicago Bears, whose defence is allowing the fewest points in the league.
Five games remain after that, including two against the Dallas Cowboys, and then, possibly, the playoffs.
And then the franchise that gave Vick a chance will, in all likelihood, tag him as their franchise player.
— The Philadelphia Inquirer
Michael Vick celebrates after leading the Eagles to a come-from-behind win over the New York Giants last Sunday, moving him to a 5-0 record in games he started for Philly this year.