Keeping Michael Vick tells you Eagles' quarterback options are limited

Quarterback Michael Vick and the Eagles agreed on a restructured deal that will keep him with the team.
Quarterback Michael Vick and the Eagles agreed on a restructured deal that will keep him with the team. (ED HILLE / Staff)
Posted: February 18, 2013

The decision to keep Michael Vick on the Eagles roster, at least for now, could be interpreted two ways.

It could be viewed as an endorsement of Vick, whose injuries and inconsistencies already eradicated the excitement from his brilliant 2010 campaign. It could also be understood as an indictment of this offseason's quarterback class, and an acknowledgment that the free-agent market is relatively bare and the trade market has more demand than supply, thus inflating prices.

The second interpretation is probably closer to reality.

Few would have blamed the Eagles if they had moved on from Vick. But if they did, they would have parted ways with a player who would instantly become one of the most coveted quarterbacks on the open market. That says as much about the market as it does about Vick, although at this point the Eagles must measure their assets against their options.

The other asset is Nick Foles, who offers potential but also has one win in six starts, more turnovers than touchdowns, and does not appear to possess the skill set for the system that coach Chip Kelly ran at Oregon. Trent Edwards and Dennis Dixon are journeymen for a reason.

It's unlikely that the Eagles could sign or trade for a quarterback who offers a substantial improvement over Vick, particularly when considering the price to acquire a quarterback via trade. For all of the ammunition Vick's naysayers have, it's far from certain that Alex Smith or Matt Flynn would be better options than Vick.

The Vick decision does not preclude the Eagles from searching for a quarterback in the draft, although they might be hard-pressed to find a worthwhile candidate at No. 4. Much could change in the next two months, and quarterback stocks might ascend after this week's scouting combine.

The Eagles could also use their second-round pick on a dual-threat quarterback - Florida State's E.J. Manuel is a name you're bound to hear - allowing time for his seasoning by playing the other quarterbacks.

A comparable situation occurred in San Francisco in 2011, when Jim Harbaugh arrived. It appeared the organization would split from Smith, a former No. 1 pick who never appeared to reach his potential. Even Smith sounded dubious about his future with the 49ers.

But Harbaugh reshuffled the deck, signing Smith to a one-year deal after spending an early second-round pick on Colin Kaepernick. (A pick, by the way, nearly identical to where the Eagles will select this season.) They had options without leveraging the franchise's future, and a fresh start and new system helped Smith while Kaepernick developed.

If the Eagles replicate the 49ers' success with Smith and Kaepernick, the Vick decision will appear clairvoyant. But if they don't, it will just be another season of quarterback chaos. So unless Vick mirrors Smith's career renaissance, Foles develops into a starter under Kelly, or a draft pick exhibits promise, the Eagles will continue to be in the worst place for an NFL franchise: without direction at quarterback.


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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