Less than a year ago, Michael Vick was seen as nothing more than a situational backup and occasional Wildcat quarterback. Still re-acclimating himself to the NFL after an infamous two-year absence due to a prison sentence for dogfighting, he was expected to see a slight increase in playing time in 2010, but certainly not more than, say, Kevin Kolb, who was hyped up as the successor of Donovan McNabb on offense. With a little over a week to go until the '11 season kicks off, however, it's Vick that's raking in the big bucks as the Eagles' franchise player--the four-time Pro-Bowler inked a six-year, $100 million extension on Monday night. Was the new deal the right move for the Eagles, however?
My immediate answer to that question--last night, and just as much today--is yes, and primarily because its essentially the only option for the Eagles. Right now, Michael Vick is the face of the team, and there were expressions of optimism from both the quarterback and the front office that a new deal would ultimately be reached. That deal was agreed upon on Monday, lucrative salary totals and all. On track to make nearly $40 million in guaranteed money, Vick's transformation from troubled Falcons washout to elite member of the league has been completed. And when considering various factors, there's little reason to question the Eagles' decision.
One could have been led to believe DeSean Jackson would be the first play-making Eagle to land a new deal, especially after the wideout's holdout in Training Camp and long-evident desire for a big-money contract. And while the general consensus is that Jackson will eventually wind up with a renegotiated deal, the team evidently felt it necessary to lock up Vick first. At 31 years old, a six-year extension doesn't exactly sound like the best idea from the team's standpoint, but Vick's case is a bit different from that of a normal quarterback. Sure, he plays with a recklessness and takes more hits than he should at times, but that's beside the point. If you consider Vick wasn't absorbing any NFL tackles or, for that matter, wearing his body down in any other way from 2007-2008, it's hard to argue that he could very well have a number of years of high-level football left in the tank.
Did the Eagles hand Vick a huge contract after just one impressive season? Perhaps, but that's the way things work in the league these days. Any common-sense fan or analyst knows that many organizations take a "what have you done for me lately?" approach to managing a roster, and Vick has certainly done some respectable things for the Eagles as of late. Teams did seem to slow him down toward the end of the 2010 campaign, but he still fought an uphill battle, working his way into the lineup and taking hold of the club en route to an NFC East title. In addition, this offseason is Vick's first with the Eagles as a full-time starter, so it's almost as though he's yet to divulge the landscape of possibilities in an already potent and Super Bowl-aspiring offense.
Take one gander around the league and some of the other recent contracts for top-tier quarterbacks. Peyton Manning just reeled in $90 million over five years. Ben Roethlisberger inked an eight-year agreement worth over $100 a few years ago. Eli Manning even signed a six-year extension last year that was worth nearly $98 million. If the Eagles believe Michael Vick is an elite passer and worthy of sticking around as the team's long-term starter (and they do), then it's not unreasonable that they've rewarded him for both his superb efforts last year, his improvements as a person off the field, and also as an incentive for garnering even more success in the future.