Vick deserves to come back as Eagles' starting QB

Vick
Vick
Posted: January 11, 2011

THE PHILADELPHIA Eagles should be Michael Vick's team.

After a season when he showed he was the best player on the team, Vick earned the right to be the Eagles' quarterback.

He wasn't given the job or anointed as the next one. He simply took a bull of an opportunity by the horns and tamed it.

It should be simple, but, of course, it isn't.

Nothing with the Eagles is ever cut and dried.

"I don't know," Vick said yesterday when asked whether he will return to Philadelphia next season. "We'll have to wait and see, but I really do hope I am.

"I enjoyed this season. I enjoy the group of guys that I play with. I enjoyed the success and progress that we all made as a young team. I think the sky's the limit."

Again, you would think this would be simple.

What team lets a Pro Bowl quarterback who just led a team to a division championship walk away as a free agent?

I can't think of any.

I wrote in November that the Eagles should sign Vick to a long-term contract.

Nothing that happened since then, not even Sunday's depressing, 21-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the NFC wild-card round, has changed my mind.

Vick performed at a level beyond anyone's expectations.

In 12 games, Vick completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns.

He joined Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young as one of two players NFL history to throw for 3,000 yards, rush for at least 500 yards (676 in 100 carries) and have a quarterback rating of 100 or more.

Vick's passer rating of 100.2 ranked fourth in the league behind Tom Brady (111.0), Philip Rivers (101.8) and Aaron Rodgers (101.2).

Vick threw the third-fewest interceptions in the league (six).

He was a leader who inspired his teammates to play at their highest level.

He accepted the huge responsibilities that come with being an NFL starting quarterback.

"The quarterback position, that's the nature of it," Vick said of the swings between praise and criticism. "Everything's thrown on your shoulders as a quarterback.

"I accept it. I respect it. That's the responsibility that you take on when you get up under the center."

There is no football argument for the Eagles not to commit to the 30-year-old Vick as their quarterback for the next 5 years.

So why isn't this the slam dunk it appears to be?

Well, there is a high probability that there will be a work stoppage caused by the labor strife between the NFL owners and players.

With no idea of what the new labor situation will look like, the Eagles have a logical reason to wait to sign Vick.

And if the new labor agreement, whenever it happens, still includes the franchise tag, the Eagles will simply place that label on Vick and sign him to a 1-year deal.

But that's not as a safe a plan as it appears.

If the Eagles sign Vick only to a 1-year deal, they will in effect have surrendered whatever leverage they have in negotiations and given all of the control to Vick.

Vick knows what kind of season he had. He knows how important he has become to this franchise.

If the Eagles franchise him, any thought of his giving them a hometown discount for pulling his career off the scrapheap is out the window.

If we're talking about a multiyear deal instead, I'd say Vick probably would owe the Eagles some loyalty for being the only team to take a chance on him when he was released from prison.

But if the Eagles don't make Vick a fair offer and instead franchise him, they will make it all about business. Once it becomes solely about business, all good will is gone.

Imagine what the price will be if Vick has another Pro Bowl season and is again eligible to hit the free-agent market.

"It doesn't really matter as long as I can play football next year, regardless of what, it's all a blessing to me," Vick said when asked whether he'd be OK with a franchise tag. "I'm just thankful that I had the opportunity to come out and help this football team win games."

Vick has repaid his part of the bargain.

The Eagles went out on a limb for him, and he's done everything they've asked of him.

This was not a "soul for eternity" deal.

The Eagles have profited greatly from their leap of faith.

Vick sounded like a player who truly knows how fortunate he was to get this opportunity.

Yesterday, he didn't sound like a guy who is looking to let things slip away.

"I think going through a whole training camp and just being here with [coach Andy Reid] will help me get better," Vick said. "He knows a lot of the things that I need to work on that will make me a lot better as a quarterback.

"It'll pay huge dividends for me, so I'll be excited about that. I've been taught how to play the game, how to go through my progressions, how to be patient, stay balanced, disciplined.

"Those are things I've been taught, things that I'm going to continue to improve on. I'm only going to better."

Vick has earned the right to be this team's quarterback. It's up to the Eagles to make that happen.

Send e-mail to

donnels@phillynews.com.

For recent columns, go to

http://go.philly.com/donnellon.

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