While it’s true that the Philadelphia Eagles won’t be dumping quarterback Mike Vick before $3 million of his $15.5 million base salary becomes fully guaranteed on February 6, the Eagles won’t be taking their time in deciding whether Vick will be moving along.
The plan, as we understand it, will unfold like a flow chart.
Step one, new Eagles coach Chip Kelly will study film in an effort to decide whether he wants Vick or Nick Foles or someone else to be the team’s quarterback.
Step two, if Kelly decides that he definitely wants Vick, will be to try to work out an alternative arrangement that entails Vick making less than $15.5 million. The amount the Eagles are willing to pay will be determined in large part by how badly Kelly wants Vick. There’s a chance, in theory, that Kelly will want Vick badly enough to bite the bullet and pay the full amount.
There’s also a chance Vick will want to play for Kelly badly enough to take a proverbial haircut on his promised pay.
Step three, if it’s determined that Kelly doesn’t want Vick or that Vick won’t accept whatever reduced contract the team is offering, will be to try to trade Vick to another team that would pay him more than the Eagles are willing to pay — and that would also give the Eagles value in return for the 2010 comeback player of the year.
Time is of the essence on all steps, because if the Eagles are going to maximize trade interest and trade value, they need to do it before teams make other plans at quarterback, by signing for example a free agent. It’s expected that the Eagles will head to the Scouting Combine with an action plan, with the hopes of getting an agreement in principle with a new team well before March 13, when trades will become finalized.
Complicating a potential trade is that a new team would have to pay Vick $15.5 million this year or persuade him to take less.
If the Eagles can’t trade Vick and if they can’t work out a new deal with him, that’s when things will get interesting. If Vick shows up for the start of the offseason workout program in April and drops a dumbbell on his foot or pops an Achilles while running at the practice facility, the Eagles will owe him the full amount of his salary if/when he lands on injured reserve.
The Eagles could be tempted to try to block Vick from the facility, like the Titans did several years ago with the late Steve McNair. But McNair ultimately won his grievance on that issue, and the Eagles would be tiptoeing into dangerous territory if they try to freeze Vick out.
That approach also would counter the team’s new effort to treat its players with a higher level of respect and dignity, an approach that G.M. Howie Roseman seems to be adopting in the wake of the departure of former team president Joe Banner. (This presumes that there was a problem under Banner; some with the Eagles may be trying to sell the idea that there was. The Mike Patterson debacle would tend to counter the idea that everything is fine and dandy now.)
Regardless, while the Eagles aren’t worried about next week’s deadline, they’ll be operating on internal deadlines that will prevent this from lingering deep into the offseason.