The Eagles have answered one of the pressing questions heading into the 2011 NFL season. After the owners’ lockout and the compressed free agency frenzy, combined with DeSean Jackson’s holdout (which would make Keith Jackson openly weep) and 50 other transactions, the Philadelphia Eagles have finally given Michael Vick his long-awaited contract extension, making him the face of the franchise.
This blockbuster six-year deal worth $100 million includes $40 million in guaranteed salary. This makes Vick the highest-paid player in Eagles history and third-highest-paid quarterback in the NFL – all three of which rank as top 3 in NFL history. The only quarterbacks now earning more money per year than Vick are Super Bowl winners Tom Brady ($18.01 million per year) and Peyton Manning ($18 million per year). Vick’s deal averages out to $16.67 million per year, which moves him ahead of Eli Manning ($16.25 million average salary), Philip Rivers ($15.3 million average), Jay Cutler ($14.67 million) and Ben Roethlisberger ($14.66 million) among the highest-paid quarterbacks in football.
The Eagles had until Sept. 20 to sign Vick or they would have had to wait until the season was over to try and negotiate a new deal for him. By doing the deal now, they not only give themselves more cap space in 2011, they eliminate a headache that would have been hanging over them all year if nothing was done by Sept. 20. Vick had been playing on a one-year franchise tag worth $16.057 million. The new deal means the Eagles have their franchise QB through the 2016 season. Because Vick’s 2011 cap figure in the new deal is less than it was under the tender – about $14.4 million as compared to $16.057 million – the Eagles gain a little over $1.6 million in much-needed cap space. This will free up salary cap space to work on the Eagles next project – DeSean Jackson’s contract (enters the 2011 season on the final year of a four-year deal that pays him the league fourth-year minimum of $600,000 this year).
Two and a half years ago, Michael Vick was out of football and recently released from prison in the wake of controversy. That was the spring of 2009 after serving more than a year and a half at Leavenworth Penitentiary on felony dogfighting charges. Vick’s signing by the Eagles caused an outcry from the fans, a ruling of reinstatement from the Commissioner and a flurry of media inquiries as to whether or not this was a PR stunt. Andy Reid met with Tony Dungy, Commissioner Goodell and Eagles management who collectively decided that the best place for Vick to resuscitate his career was in Philadelphia. Stable franchise, winning attitude and coaches with a history of QB mentoring.
Vick was bankrupt, stripped of pretty much everything he’d built during his first go-round in the NFL as “The Human Highlight Reel” and showed up to qualify for the Eagles third string QB job. By 2010 Vick was back in football shape, acclimated to his surroundings and back on his feet. With incumbent starter Donovan McNabb traded in April, the QB reins were handed to Kevin Kolb – making Vick the backup. After two quarters of the 2010 season’s opening game Vick took over for injured Kolb as the Eagles’ starting QB and then became the league’s Comeback Player of the Year.
Kolb was traded this preseason long after conceding the starter’s job to Vick. The new Eagles franchise QB has said repeatedly he hopes to finish his career with the Eagles, the only team that showed a true interest in signing him when he was released from federal custody two years ago. Oddly enough there were also quotes to the contrary indicating that Vick’s original intention was to find an NFL franchise that would allow him to start immediately. Once he realized those didn’t exist, Vick warmed to the idea of becoming a Philadelphia Eagle.
Vick, 31, went 8-3 in 11 games as a starter last year, his first year as a starter since 2006. He threw 21 TD and 6 INT compiling a career-high 100.2 passer rating – second-highest in franchise history behind Donovan McNabb’s 104.7 figure in 2004. Vick also rushed for 676 yards and 9 more TD.
Vick is the third quarterback the Eagles signed in the last three years to a contract averaging over $12 million per year. On June 12, 2009, they signed Donovan McNabb to a two-year deal averaging $12.1 million per year. After they traded McNabb to the Redskins in April 2010, they signed Kevin Kolb to a one-year, $12.26 million contract. They traded Kolb to the Cards in late July, opening the way for Vick to become their unchallenged franchise quarterback.
The previous most lucrative long-term deal the Eagles awarded was Jason Peters’ 2010 deal, worth about $12.8625 million per season. Vick said throughout training camp that the ongoing contract talks were not a distraction for him and refused to comment when asked directly about DeSean Jackson’s pending deal.
“My main priority right now is to be the best football player in practice that I can be and let that carry over into the game,” he said. “You play good enough, you play well, and you impress the people who expect a lot out of you, good things happen. If it’s supposed to happen, it’ll happen. The worst thing you can do is think about it. That’s always been my approach.”
Now Vick has $100 million reasons to find out if he can repeat his 2011 performance or possibly improve upon those 11 starts. Vick and the Eagles are about to embark on one of the more hopeful seasons in franchise history.
Vick Didn’t Want to Come to Philly http://www.prosportsblogging.com/2011/08/18/vick-didnt-want-to-come-to-philly/
About the Author
Written by Christopher Rowe
Contributing writer Comcast Sports, NY Times contributing stringer 1996-2000, Contributing writer Yahoo Sports (2001 World Series). Contributing writer Newsday Long Island (1992-1994, Jets Training Camp) and Newak Star Ledger. Freelance Copywriter, Editor/Founder Atlantic Times Weekly (1993-2003) fantasy football magazine, produced screenwriter and general humorist. Hofstra University grad, Marist College honorary alum, Salesian; Purveyor of the Value and Valor of Philadelphia Eagles 1960 NFL Championship; Adrent believer that Eagles could have won Super Bowl XV...and Super Bowl XXXIX...plus modern decade of Eagles 5 NFC Championships... Believer in the Broad Street Bullies and the 1983 Sixers... Witness to Philadelphia Phillies World Series championships 1980 & 2008, Suffered Phillies first pro sports team to reach 10,000 losses,witnessed "1980 Cardiac Kids," 1983 "Wheeze Kids," 1993 "Macho Row" and many, many, many not-so-memorable seasons in-between... until the Philadelphia Baseball Renaissance of 21st Century, Five NL East division titles 2007-2011, 3 NLCS appearances 2008-2010, 2 consecutive World Series berths 2008 & 2009. 2008 World Champions of baseball [miss ya Harry and Richie]; "collector" of MLB ballparks (42 stadiums including 15 which are gone); Fantasy Football & Baseball player since 1992. Always a sports fan... Tenui Nec Dimittam Contact me firstname.lastname@example.org