Philadelphia Turmoil: Why the Eagles Can't Afford to Release Michael Vick

Lou DiPietroAnalyst IJuly 6, 2010

Michael Vick on the set of "106 and Park"
Michael Vick on the set of "106 and Park"Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Rumors are abounding that the Philadelphia Eagles plan to release Michael Vick in the very near future. The team denies any and all reports about this, but with the current (and potential) PR nightmare that is the shooting at Vick’s birthday party still shrouded in mystery, one could understand why the rumor is so strong.

Vick is due more than $5 million this year, which is likely to be his last in Philly; Vick wants to be a starter, but Kevin Kolb is currently entrenched in that spot for the Birds, so No. 7 would likely have to go somewhere else to be the man.

Plus, as Philadelphia Inquirer beat reporter Phil Sheridan noted in his article, if it’s found that Vick is lying about the timeline preceding the shooting, then he would be violating the “standards” owner Jeffrey Lurie imposed on Vick when he was signed.

So between all this PR riffraff and the potential of a suspension looming, why wouldn’t the Eagles want to get rid of the “albatross” that is Michael Vick 2010?

One simple reason: He’s the best option they have.

On the field, what the Eagles have in Vick is a former No. 1 overall draft pick who was once an “elite” quarterback in the NFL—and I use quotes because Vick was a Pro Bowler but had a lot of deficiencies.

That said, he still threw for 11,500 yards, ran for nearly 4,000 more, and had more than 90 touchdowns in his first six years in the league.

Vick’s already an important part of the offense, as he runs the Wildcat sets and can do it effectively. While Donovan McNabb slowed down a lot in later years, he was still always a threat with his legs when he absolutely needed to be.

Kolb isn’t…but Vick is. Hell, Vick might be the best actual running back on the roster; his three best rushing seasons had higher totals (1039, 902, and 777) than the 637 yards team leader LeSean McCoy put up in 2009—and right now, Vick is the only man on the Eagles’ roster to rush for even as many as 700 yards in a season.

Point, Vick.

But beyond that, you have an offense that will be passing the ball a lot more—which means that you need a sturdy backup who can step in if your untested starter goes down because of the pressure.

So, if not Vick, exactly who fits that role?

Mike Kafka? He has as much NFL experience as I do. Jeff Garcia? He’s 40, and at this point of his career, he’s best served as a third-string player-coach and not a viable option—not to mention that in his short stint as an Eagle last season, he had more fumbles lost than pass attempts.

How about some other free agent? Well, when JaMarcus Russell, Patrick Ramsey, and Josh McCown are the cream of that crop, you’re in trouble; the rest of the group are either career third-stringers, aging veterans who are about a half-step above Garcia in the usefulness department, or Daunte Culpepper. 

So the bottom line is this: Unless Michael Vick is suspended for the entire season (which is still possible), the Philadelphia Eagles can’t afford to not have him on the roster next season.

And if they do cut him, it could make an already long year in Philly that much longer.