Philadelphia Eagles: Can Michael Vick Really Live Up to a $100 Million Contract?

Cody SwartzSenior Writer IAugust 21, 2012

FOXBORO, MA - AUGUST 20:   Michael Vick #7 of the Philadelphia Eagles leaves the field after he was hit on a play in the first quarter against the New England Patriots during a preseason game at Gillette Stadium on August  20, 2012 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

When the Philadelphia Eagles signed Michael Vick in the summer of 2009 after he had been out of football for two seasons, it was one of the more shocking moves of the Andy Reid Era.

Following Vick’s miraculous MVP performance down the stretch, Reid rewarded Vick with a six-year, $100 million contract extension, further adding to one of the more shocking moves of Reid’s coaching career. It’s not as if Vick didn’t enjoy a tremendous season—he did, for the 12 games in which he suited up—but granting a 30-year old, injury prone, running quarterback a nine-figure deal after playing well for a two-month span defies logic.

NFL contracts are not guaranteed like they are in Major League Baseball, meaning the Eagles don’t have to keep Vick under team control through the 2016 season as his contract suggests. They can cut him after this season and not lose a penny, and that will save them $16.9 million against the cap for the 2013 campaign and nearly $20 million ($19.4 million, to be exact) in 2014.

But they do have to pay him for this year or they will face a significant penalty to their salary cap limit. Vick is bringing in a base salary of $12.5 million for 2012 plus a $1.4 million bonus that pays him $13.9 million this year. And this for a quarterback who has suited up for all 16 games in a season just once.

There may never have been a quarterback who has gotten paid so much for doing so little. Vick has made four Pro Bowls in his career, but it’s much more to his flashiness and his amazing ability to take off and run than his numbers. Vick’s 56.0 career completion percentage, 7.1 career yards per attempt and 80.9 passer rating are numbers you might find from a guy like Damon Huard or Mark Sanchez, not a guy who has twice been given $100 million contracts.

Last year, Vick stumbled through the worst season of his career despite an offensive line that featured three Pro Bowl-caliber players (Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, and Todd Herremans), a running back that scored 20 touchdowns and led all players at his position in fantasy points and a receiving corps that included DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek.

Sure, Jackson did take much of the year off and Vick was playing with two rookie interior offensive linemen, but that leaves him with an incredible amount to prove in ’12. Vick has no excuses not to succeed this year. The knock on him over his career have been the same: his inability to read defenses, his refusal to learn how to slide, his inaccurate passes and inconsistencies and his ridiculous tendencies to get injured.

So far this preseason, Vick has thrown seven passes and he’s gotten hurt badly enough that x-rays were needed on two occasions.

In last night’s win over the New England Patriots, Vick tried to make a play happen when his protection broke down, and the result was a helmet in the ribs and a rib contusion (although fortunately, there were no broken  bones or cartilage damage).

The Eagles have gotten two spectacular performances from rookie third-round pick Nick Foles in the preseason (although don’t forget, it is just preseason and Foles was playing mostly against the second team), while expected backup Mike Kafka has a broken hand and may not make the team when he does return. And regardless of how well Trent Edwards plays in preseason, I doubt too many Eagles fans will breathe a sigh of relief that they have Edwards on the bench when Vick gets hurt again.

Vick’s inability to stay healthy means the Eagles may have to trade for a veteran backup—Colt McCoy, Matt Moore or Tarvaris Jackson seem like the most logical options. And it’s difficult to expect a quarterback who is now 32 years old and runs as much as Vick does to stay healthy over the course of a 16-game schedule.

Reid giving Vick the contract almost seemed to be a hefty reward for Vick’s magical performance down the stretch in ’10, although that performance really faded during the Tuesday Night Football matchup against the Minnesota Vikings and the wild-card loss to the Minnesota Vikings.

Or maybe it was just Reid’s way of putting his trust in Vick and letting his quarterback know just how good he believes he can be—and that Vick deserves to be paid like the best in the game.

Now that Vick is being compensated like he’s the best, it’s time for him to play like the best. Anything less and he won’t be worth it.