At least in spurts last season, Michael Vick played like one of the NFL's best quarterbacks. Now, he's going to be paid like one.
Vick agreed to a whopping six-year, $100 million contract with the Eagles on Monday, with $40 million guaranteed. The 31-year-old Vick could now be in Philadelphia through the 2016 season.
He was set to play out this season as the Eagles' designated franchise player, which would have paid him just shy of $16 million for 2011. Instead, he'll earn $16.7 million. Vick eased his way back into the NFL in 2009, seeing limited action with the Eagles. He took over as the starter last season, throwing for 3,018 yards in 12 games and rushing for an additional 676.
It's the latter stat that still makes Vick the dangerous weapon he is. Few players in the NFL, let alone quarterbacks, bring as much athleticism and elusiveness to the table as he does. But it's also Vick's propensity for trying to make things happen with his feet that could make this a risky deal.
Remember, Vick missed four games in 2010 after suffering a rib cartilage injury against the Redskins, when he took a hit while scrambling. Taking into account the two seasons he lost due to being incarcerated and Vick hasn't played a full NFL season since 2006 with Atlanta.
Speaking of which, we can officially declare that Vick's NFL career has come full circle. It's sort of incredible to think about, but this is the second $100 million contract that Vick has received. The first came at the end of the 2004 regular season -- Atlanta handed Vick a 10-year, $130 million extension that at the time made him the richest player in the league.
That season ended with a conference title game loss to (oh, the irony!) the Eagles. Vick made it through two more seasons before heading off to jail, an unexpected turn that cost the controversial QB nearly $70 million in base salary from that initial deal. Vick also had to eventually pay back more than $6 million of the bonuses he received on the contract, which totaled $37 million.
But for everything that went wrong while Vick was a member of the Falcons, it feels like the exact opposite has been true since he landed in Philadelphia. He signed with the Eagles just prior to the 2009 season for less than $2 million, with no money guaranteed.
Almost two years to the date, he's topped that contract more than 50 times over.
Say what you will about his previous blunders, but Philadelphia wouldn't have taken a chance on Vick in 2009 and certainly would not have committed this massive contract to him if he wasn't a one-of-a-kind talent. The Eagles even traded away promising QB Kevin Kolb to Arizona this offseason -- then Kolb himself landed a $65 million, six-year deal.
And as much as this contract is a vote of confidence for Vick's on-field impact from Philadelphia, it's also the Eagles' way of saying that they trust Vick off the field as well.
Believe me, Philadelphia would not have thrown this deal Vick's way if the franchise had even one iota of concern about what he was doing away from the gridiron. You may never want to forgive him for the dogfighting charges -- and no one will ever forget that era of Vick's life -- but every step he's taken in the past two years has paid off.
All that said, though, this is a gamble on the Eagles' part. Instead of taking it year to year with Vick and holding Kolb as insurance, they've decided to put all their chips on the table.
It's now up to Vick to stay healthy, stay out of trouble and reward that faith.