We’ve already discussed when the Eagles should sign Michael Vick, but the simple question that I pose to you and myself is: What contract does Michael Vick deserve?
It hasn’t been said explicitly, but I will say it now: There is ZERO CHANCE the Birds don’t sign Vick to a long-term deal. Zero. Mark it down. The only thing more unlikely than Vick testing the free agent waters is Katy Perry ever making a song that doesn’t reek of shame and embarrassment.
The Eagles have a long history of extending contracts in November (Winston Justice, Brent Celek, and Reggie Brown just to name a few), and there is no way Big Red will let Vick, his pride and joy, walk after this year. Some believe they may use the franchise tag on him after this year, but I believe that is unlikely with the current CBA expiring in March.
There is too much uncertainty with that looming, plus you don’t know how Vick would take the news, as many players in the past have voiced their displeasure with the franchise tag (which to that I say, “shut the hell up and play”, but I digress). I believe they will sign Vick to a long-term deal by the end of this season, maybe even by the end of November, no questions asked.
So, with that part cleared up, let’s go ahead and ask ourselves what contract we think Vick is worth? We all love to talk about the McNabb extension, so that’s a good place to start. I don’t think you could find one football fan or expert in the country who would tell you that McNabb, 33 (turns 34 on November 25th), is better than Vick, 30 (31 in June), at this point, meaning he is worth more than the 5-year, $78 million contract #5 just signed with the Skins.
I know that McNabb can be essentially “bought out” after this season for $3.75 million, but I’m guessing that won’t happen since they invested two high draft picks to get him from the Birds.
It would be tough to justify cutting him after one season to that fan base. But, instead of getting into what-if’s, let’s just take the contract at face value and say he plays four or five more years with the Skins. That means he is going to average roughly $15.5 million per season from ages 34-38, before incentives (which are laughable, by the way).
If it is understood and accepted that Vick is better than McNabb, he is due to make more than that $15.5 million figure, pure and simple. As much as you may not like it, player’s contracts are heavily based on the contracts their peers have signed before them. With the way Vick is playing now, he has easily surpassed McNabb money and is pushing his way into Peyton Manning and Tom Brady money.
Brady just recently signed a 4-year extension that pays him roughly $18 million annually, while Manning will “absolutely become the highest-paid player in the league” after the season, according to his owner, Jim Isray. You have to imagine that he will be making somewhere near $20 million per year, and he turns 35 next season.
Let’s be clear, I am not saying Vick is better than either Brady or Manning, and I don’t think there is anyone who would argue that he is. What I am saying is Vick, with the way he is playing now, is the best QB playing the position this year, and is in the 2nd tier of elite QBs in the NFL overall.
That tier, in my opinion, includes Brees, Rivers, Vick, and Roethlisberger, in that order. I see all six of the top quaerterbackss I have named being in the elite for years to come, and that includes Vick. All the rest of them already do make or stand to make at least $15 million per season with their next contract, so I believe Vick should be paid accordingly.
With that thought in mind, along with accounting for his age, his talent, and his almost limitless ceiling if he continues to improve like I expect, Vick could command 5-6 years and about $16-18 million per season if he were to hit the open market (but that will not happen, so don’t worry Birds fans).
Personally, being a little biased towards Vick, I would give him fewer years but more money per season. My ideal numbers would be fou years and $80 million after incentives, with something like half of the money guaranteed, which is the going rate for QBs these days.
You can always add on years to the end of the contract, but even someone who likes him as much as me is a little skeptical if his style of play will allow him to play into his late 30s. But, I fully expect the Birds to give him a 5-year deal and lower his amount per season to help with the salary cap, and I would have absolutely no problem with that. No matter the amount it takes to keep him, the Eagles NEED to keep him. He has energized this franchise and its fan base like McNabb did in 2000, and they can’t afford to lose him.
What do you guys think? Is he worth that much? Or more? Or is he going to come back down to Earth and be the Vick who played in Atlanta (who I still loved by the way, but many people hated)?