After a disappointing 8-8 season in which the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles fell way short of their lofty dream team expectations, every single returning member of the Eagles has something to prove in 2012.
Michael Vick leads the group though in terms of players with something to prove, and he was a major reason why the Eagles missed the playoffs last season. He did set career highs in passing yards (3,303) along with 18 passing touchdowns, but he threw 14 interceptions, fumbled 11 times and he missed three games due to assorted injuries.
After his down campaign in ’11, Vick declared in the offseason that the Eagles have the potential to be a dynasty. While Vick likely meant it as simply a confidence booster to his teammates, it may not have been the wisest thing to say after Vince Young’s "Dream Team" comment plagued the team all of last season.
Vick is 32 years old and entering the second season of a six-year, $100 million contract extension he signed after his MVP-caliber year in 2010. He is set to earn a base salary of $12.5 million with a signing bonus of $1.4 million, which counts as a total of $13.9 million against the cap. Next year, those figures include an additional $3 million miscellaneous bonus that counts as a whopping $16.9 million against the cap.
The Eagles also have other salaries to worry about like $9 million for DeSean Jackson, $10.5 million for Jason Peters and $15.3 million for Nnamdi Asomugha. Plus, they also have to worry about signing Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to a long-term deal. The team can’t afford to bring back Vick for 2013 if he plays his usual 12-13 games this season and deals with inconsistencies, fumbles and interceptions like he did last year.
Vick has all the weapons around him to succeed. Jackson has been re-signed, Jeremy Maclin is fully healthy after a training camp scare last year and Jason Avant, Marvin McNutt and Brent Celek are excellent possession receivers/tight ends. And don’t forget All-Pro runner LeSean McCoy out of the backfield, arguably the game’s best pure runner. The offensive line will be without Peters next season, but the rest of the unit is as stout as ever and the defense gives Vick a real shot at his first-ever NFL championship ring.
Vick still hasn’t had that career year he was expected to put up after being drafted first overall in 2001, and it’s really not too late. He’s still in the prime of his career physically, but he doesn’t have too much more time. Vick needs to stay healthy this year and lead Philadelphia to a deep playoff run, or he may not get another opportunity in 2013.