Former Atlanta Falcons superstar Michael Vick was recently re-instated to the National Football League by commissioner Roger Goodell after serving a 23-month prison term for his actions in a dogfighting ring.
During the ordeal, the Falcons cut ties with the quarterback, drafted Matt Ryan, made the playoffs, and have turned over a new leaf as a franchise.
For Vick, the search for a new team willing to take the baggage he may bring has been a rough one. While he claims that teams have shown interest in him and that he will be signed in the near future, nothing solid has surfaced.
For those of you reading the title of this article and saying “NO! What are you thinking, Mark?!”, relax, because there is no way Ted Thompson would make a deal for the troubled quarterback.
Not only is Vick the polar opposite of a “Packer person,” but he would likely cost too much money for Thompson to pull the trigger. Everyone knows how stingy he is in free agency.
If you are a reader that is saying “Hey, maybe taking a flyer on the most electric player in the game isn’t such a bad idea”, let’s explain to the other group of readers why.
First and foremost, the Packers are a team that could afford Vick, even if he wanted a little more money than expected. Even after signing Tramon Williams and Greg Jennings to big extensions, the team has plenty of cap space to negotiate a deal with Vick.
While Thompson believes in building within and is planning to spend that money to extend his young stars, the fact remains that Vick is signable.
With Vick signed and in camp, the first thing to do is implement the Wildcat formation into the offense.
Outside of Donald Driver running the ball maybe twice last year (might have even been '07), the Packers have never run the Wildcat or even considered it. Part of the reason? They never had anyone who could run it.
The Bears have Devin Hester, who is one of the quickest players in the league and seems to have a knack for the big play.
Vick would be an answer to the the “exciting” players in the NFC North, but also add the dimension of being able to pass in certain situations.
With Vick, one of the most exciting offenses in the league quickly becomes THE most exciting offense in the league.
For as much criticism as Vick took behind the helm as a quarterback, he was never all that bad.
Was he as good as his $120 million contract said he should have been? Certainly not. But as a Wildcat specialist and back-up quarterback for the Packers, he will be well worth what the Packers end up paying him.
Last year, rookies Brian Brohm and Matt Flynn manned the back-up duties behind Aaron Rodgers and were less than impressive. The seventh-rounder Flynn beat out the second rounder Brohm for the back-up job and that looks to be the case this year.
If Vick comes in, suddenly the Packers have a veteran back-up with a whole lot of experience under his belt. Keeping four quarterbacks on the roster would not be an option, but if the coaching staff feels Vick is good enough, then Brohm still might have trade value and Flynn is expendable.
The problems he would cause for defenses are unimaginable. Think about a shotgun formation with Rodgers next to Vick in the backfield.
Now put Donald Driver, Greg Jennings, Jordy Nelson, and James Jones out on the field and spread them out wide. Even a swing pass of a simple handoff to Vick would put the defense in a confused state.
While Vick probably isn’t a huge threat as a pure running back, and the Packers do not need any more wide receiver help, using him in the Wildcat would be a huge addition to the offense.
Regardless of how good one believes Michael Vick is on the field or how good he could be with the Packers in the Wildcat formation, the off-the-field issues are what scare most people away.
It’s true, Vick has a terrible reputation right now and his legacy and image has been tarnished forever in some people’s eyes.
While I am not here to judge people or say what is right or wrong in the world, what Vick did was not really all that terrible in comparison to other players in the league and their actions. There are players in the league who have done some pretty terrible things (Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, Randy Moss, just to name a few).
If you believe Vick, then he is truly sorry for his actions and understands that what he did was immoral, disgusting, and wrong. Serving almost two years in jail changes a lot of people, and the word is that Vick is a changed man. He has kept up on his conditioning and seems to be ready and anxious to get back in the game of football.
Another factor in whether or not Vick should come to Green Bay is the location. Vick would not be in a huge city like New York or Chicago where he would have media members breathing down his neck after every practice and game.
If ESPN’s coverage of the Packers over the years is any indication, Vick might NEVER be mentioned in the press.
In a smaller town like Green Bay, Vick could be himself and would be away from any potential problems that he might face in a bigger city with a bigger population.
Maybe the biggest concern is what effect Vick might have on the rest of the locker room. Maybe it’s just that they are the only team I follow, but the Packers seem to have one of the tightest core group of guys in the league.
I wrote earlier on how the wide receivers are all best buddies, and it seems as if the rest of the team acts that way as well.
A more humbled Vick would know that the Packers are not his team and that he is not calling the shots. He would be a role player and that is something that might take off some of the pressure that Vick has faced in the past, causing him to lash out.
Throw in his contract a zero tolerance policy that says if he acts out of order he is gone and will not be paid.
So which side do I take in this whole argument? I say no to signing Vick but it isn’t because of what you might think. I believe he could really help this team, and any team for that matter.
He didn’t succeed under the spotlight, but the athleticism is still there for any team that wants him. If he is asked to come in and be a starting quarterback for a team, problems will arise and Vick will simply be the same quarterback that he was before this whole incident occurred.
The reason I think Vick is the wrong answer for the Packers now is the timing of everything. Training camp started yesterday and the Packers are off and rolling.
There is no second-guessing the draft, the free agent selections, or any of the coaching selections. What you have is what you go with to start the year.
I realize that whoever decides to roll the dice on Vick will have this predicament, but for a team like the Packers who struggled last year and are putting in a brand new defense, he just isn’t the answer right now.