Eagles bank a lot on Vick's sparse body of work

Michael Vick: modest record
Michael Vick: modest record
Posted: August 30, 2011

THIS WAS inevitable.

The Eagles had already walked too far down a road without exits to prevent the financial windfall that Michael Vick reaped yesterday when the two sides agreed on a 6-year contract worth $100 million, with $40 million guaranteed.

Cha-ching, the prodigal quarterback has received his final reward for changing his ways.

Virtually all that was thrown away has been regained.

And if Vick has to be forever referred to as a "dog killer" by those who cannot forgive him, he'll live with that - wealthily.

But this is no longer about the bad decisions that cost Vick his first run at football fame and fortune.

That story has been debated up and down since the Eagles signed Vick after he was released from federal prison 2 years ago.

This is about the Eagles - a franchise that has made a substantial "all-in" bet on a quarterback who is far from a guarantee of success.

Honestly, I thought they had a better conceived plan when they executed the long-prepared transition of Kevin Kolb from Donovan McNabb's backup to franchise quarterback at the start of the 2010 season.

Eagles fans know the story:

Kolb got a concussion less than a half into the opening game. Vick starred in a relief role.

Then meticulous coach Andy Reid pulled the biggest 180-degree turn of his career by first saying Kolb would return as the starter, then giving the job to Vick permanently a day later.

I wrote then, and still say today, that I would have stayed with Kolb.

This entire Vick-revival would have never happened under my watch, because I would have given Kolb a legitimate chance - not one half of football - to show whether he was truly a franchise quarterback.

I'm not saying Kolb would have done as well as Vick. I'm saying that to this day, there is no way to know.

The Eagles decided never to find out, because as soon as Vick was named the permanent starter, a long-term deal between him and the team was consummated.

Kolb was going to be traded, and Vick was going to get an extension.

The only questions were for how long and for how much money?

Now we know.

I am not stupid enough to say Vick has not earned this opportunity. He had an MVP-worthy season in 2010, when he completed 233 of 372 passes for 3,018 yards with 21 touchdowns, both career highs.

Including rushing, Vick totaled 3,694 yards and 30 touchdowns. The Eagles finished 10-6 and won the NFC East.

Quite honestly, it's impossible to say the Eagles made a bad decision based on that body of work. Still, conceding that the Eagles didn't make a bad decision doesn't necessarily mean I think they made the right one.

If I were in charge, I would need to see a bigger body of work than that to commit the fate of my franchise to Vick.

With a yearly salary average of about $16.67 million a year, Vick, 31, is third only to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Colts quarterback Peyton Manning.

The Eagles have valued Vick in a class with Brady, Manning, the Saints' Drew Brees and the Steelers' Ben Roethlisberger. But those quarterbacks have all done something Vick has not - led his team to a Super Bowl title.

By comparison, Vick's accomplishments as an Eagle are extremely modest. Vick has made 11 starts and won eight games for the Eagles.

His last game, the playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers, ended a lot like the ones for which McNabb was raked over the coals.

Vick had the ball in his hands with a chance to win the game and threw an interception.

That's a lot of cash and salary-cap commitment for eight wins and another Eagles playoff failure.

"I'm very happy we were able to reach an agreement with Michael on this long-term contract," Reid said. "I'm very proud that he has been able to achieve success again in this league, but he'll be the first one to tell you that there is a lot of work yet to be done by him and this team as a whole.

"There's no doubt in my mind that he will continue on that path."

Reid had better be right, because wherever this path leads for Vick - successful or unsuccessful - the entire Eagles organization is going there with him.


For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/Smallwood.

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