The key word is compete because Dixon does not figure to be a favorite to win a starting job over Michael Vick or Nick Foles. In fact, Dixon's first task will be simply making the roster. NFL rosters expand to 90 players during the offseason, so it is common for a team to make these kind of moves. However, Dixon's position and his connection to Kelly make this more than a run-of-the-mill February signing.
Dixon threw for 2,136 yards and rushed for 583 during his senior season at Oregon - his lone season under Kelly. He rushed for 1,208 yards in his career with the Ducks.
That background in Kelly's system and the professional experience help Dixon's case, but no NFL team was compelled to put him on an active roster after the Steelers let him go in 2011. Dixon, who is listed at 6-foot-3 and 209 pounds, suffered knee injuries in 2010 with the Steelers and in 2007 at Oregon.
In his Steelers career, he completed 35 of 49 passes for 402 yards and one touchdown. He rushed 10 times for 56 yards and a TD.
He comes to Philadelphia hoping to resuscitate his career. Kelly has made it clear that the starting quarterback job must be earned during the offseason - even after the Eagles renegotiated Vick's contract to keep Vick in Philadelphia.
"There is an open competition," Kelly said Monday. "Michael knows that. Nick knows that."
Kelly had hinted earlier this week that the Eagles would upgrade their roster any way possible, and the quick decision to sign Dixon is an indication that there is at least promise in the journeyman quarterback.
It also is an indication that Kelly's offense in the NFL could mirror his offense at Oregon. By keeping Vick in Philadelphia, Kelly showed that he still desires a mobile quarterback. The coach refused to draw those lines on Monday, but Dixon's reputation has been as a dual-threat quarterback.
"People try to look at what we've done in the past and where I've been and kind of paint it with one brush because everybody wants a sound bite to say your offense is this," Kelly said. "I don't think what we do offensively can be said in one or two words that we're either this or we're this."
Contact Zach Berman at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.