March 03, 2010
He came back to the NFL as an ex-convict and as a pariah, and all Michael Vick(notes) could do in his rebound season with the Philadelphia Eagles was to keep his head down, his mouth (for the most part) shut, and his game on display. The stats were not remarkable -- six completions in 13 attempts for 86 yards and a touchdown, and 24 rushing attempts for 95 yards in the Eagles' option packages -- but Vick wasn't always in the best situation. As Andy Reid brought him in to run Philly's square-peg Wildcat-derivative schemes, Reid might as well have held up a huge sign telling opposing defenses what was coming.
The Eagles have a $1.5 million upcoming roster bonus for Vick, and they'll pick it up, but they might very well turn around and shop him after that. The two questions for Vick in 2010 are: Can he be a legit NFL quarterback again, and where might he get the chance to do so? The candidates, as we see them right now:
Carolina Panthers: "If I could play for any team in the league, it would probably be two teams, but if I had to pick one, it would probably be the Carolina Panthers," Vick said in an appearance on Hot 107.9 in Atlanta, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Why the Panthers?
"Well, you know, it's close to home," Vick said. "I like the uniforms. You get to play against Atlanta twice a year. Ain't nothing better than playing against your former team, right? So, yeah, that would be a good look, it would be a good look."
Carolina's probably looking for ways to unburden themselves from that awful Jake Delhomme(notes) contract in the impending uncapped year, and their power offense would look good with a few hundred read-option snaps. If this happens, the only thing I'd say to Vick is to lay off the revenge juice when it comes to the Falcons -- they owe him less than nothing.
St. Louis Rams: If the Rams don't take Sam Bradford or trade for Donovan McNabb, this could be an intriguing fit. This offense is desperately short of playmakers, running back Steven Jackson aside, and the addition of Vick could do what the option does for a lot of college offenses -- set defenses on their heels without great talent. In addition, tackle Jason Smith(notes), their first-round pick last year, might be more comfortable on the right side in the short term. He is definitely better in a two-point stance right now, and would protect Vick's blind side. Vick could at least hold the Rams' offense to a minimal standard while all the personnel holes are filled.
Buffalo Bills: A great fit. Maybe the best of all. New head coach Chan Gailey had great success with Tyler Thigpen in Kansas City, running various short shotgun college-type sets as KC's offensive coordinator. The Bills, like the Rams, are short quite a few weapons, and they're always desperate for people who will put butts in the seats. T.O.'s on the way out, which leaves an opening in both categories.
Oakland Raiders: I've always thought this would be an outstanding scheme fit -- not because of (insert Raiders joke here), but because Darren McFadden(notes) ran the Wildcat at Arkansas and has a lot of experience with option sets -- he's done a little bit of that in Oakland. On the other hand, the Raiders are inexplicably committed to JaMarcus Russell(notes) and will give Bruce Gradkowski(notes) a second-round tender.
Philadelphia Eagles: There are those who believe that the real reason the Eagles signed Vick was not to be Donovan McNabb's(notes) backup in 2009; it was perhaps to be his replacement in 2010 or 2011. I heard Greg Cosell of NFL Films, whose opinion I greatly respect, say this on SIRIUS NFL Radio a few months back, and it's an interesting idea. Vick is obviously more comfortable with the Eagles' offense than he has been before, and it's not impossible to imagine a McNabb trade. Problems with this scenario are that Philly has been committed to Kevin Kolb(notes) for a while, and they'll have to find ways to better fit Vick in as a real quarterback and drop the gimmicky stuff that simply didn't work.
In the end, I see Vick going to Buffalo if the Eagles don't keep him. The Bills need a quarterback in a shallow draft pool, the coach will be able to use him in more ways than just about any other, and it's a good, under-the-radar location for Vick to get his feet under him again as a full-time starter.
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