Cashing In: Mike Vick
Training camp is just around the corner for the Eagles. So now that activities that actually mean anything are starting up, it’s time to examine an undervalued part of the roster—players on contract years.
The contract year can do wonders for a player. For example, it will get lazy players paid. Guys who have no real interest in the game tend to have better seasons when a huge payday is on the line (see: Haynesworth, Albert). Other times average players get grossly overpaid (Laurent Robinson). And for older players, it’s about proving that you can still perform professionally (Charles Woodson).
So, for a number of players, a contract year can change your life. But with the Eagles beginning an entirely new franchise vision, these guys also need to prove that they can get with the program.
Over the next few days what I’ll be doing is an analysis on some players that have already spent at least a year with the team and have a contract that expires at the end of the year.
So to start, let’s start with the most controversial player: Mike Vick.
Everything about Vick is uncertain this season. He’s competing with Nick Foles to not only be the starter, but to stay in Philly all together. If he loses the job he’ll be instantly released and it won’t hurt the Eagles in any way financially.
So then the questions become what will it take in order for Vick to remain with the team? And also, what kind of contract would be expected if he does?
Well, based on what we know about Chip Kelly’s system, there’s a few things we know about the expectations of the quarterback. Primarily, he needs to be a quick and accurate passer that limits turnovers and sacks as much as possible. (Is that you, Doug Collins?)
None of these characteristics jump out and hit you in the face screaming “Mike Vick” like, say a Sharknado might. It will be a process.
The best completion percentage of his career came during his otherworldly 2010 in which he posted a solid 62.6%. It was good for 11th in the league for passers with at least 300 attempts. Since then he’s posted 59.8% and 58.1% in 2011 and ’12 respectively, which are below average.
In terms of his short game specifically, Vick has been a 70% passer in the 0-9 yard range with 14 touchdowns and nine interceptions since 2010. From 10-19 yards, he’s notched a 62% completion rate with 12 TDs and four INTs over that same time span. Those numbers could use a boost.
Short range will be the bread and butter area for the offense so Vick will need to make better reads if he wants to make the team. This is a fast paced, precision offense and Chip Kelly doesn’t seem to be the type that tolerates mistakes.
Here’s what Kelly said during his time at Oregon:
In our attitude, every sack is the quarterback’s fault. It is not a sack if the quarterback throws the ball away. Nobody ever lost a game on an incomplete pass. Throw the ball away and give us another opportunity to make a first down. If you throw it away, it is second-and-10 for the first down. if you take the sack, it is second-and-16 for the down. If you can stay away from negative yardage plays, you will be successful.
So how is Vick with getting sacked? For starters he was the second slowest in the entire league last year for the average time it took him to throw a pass. He clocked in with an average time of 3.12 seconds per pass which was only behind rookie Russell Wilson. This is certainly a factor in the average of just over 28 sacks per season. That number needs to improve as well.
Most believe, and Chip Kelly has admitted, that last year’s scheme paired with an awful offensive line was a recipe for disaster—also similar to a Sharknado—and didn’t put Vick in a situation to succeed. Still, whether or not Kelly can correct those problems is vital for Vick in a contract year.
Now there’s the possibility that he may win the job this year and play the season out, but like I said earlier, what will it take for him to stay?
Vick will probably need something like 3,600 total yards a +12 turnover differential with a comp. % greater than 63 to make the idea of staying in Philly plausible. It would put him in the area of roughly the 10-12th best QB in the league next year and force the Eagles to consider him for another year or two going forward.
If Chip can run the offense like anticipated and if he can correct Vick’s throwing the way he’s corrected Vick’s running, then this idea isn’t so out there. The problem is that Vick needs to perform so well that they’re willing to sit a year or two on Barkley and Foles, which may not even happen this offseason.
So is it likely that he regains top form? No.
What the more realistic expectation is for Vick is that he plays the year out, has an average season and nets something around two years, $14 million on the open market. It would be a deal on par with what he is making this year and allow him to retain the role of “veteran holdover” in another city that gives up on its QB (think of Cleveland, Minnesota, or Jacksonville).
So if you’re a Vick hater, hold tight. The ride’s almost over.
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