Ashley Fox's Friday column takes up the issue of whether concussed and deposed Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick will be able to find a job as an NFL quarterback next season. As you likely know by now, the Eagles can get out of Vick's contract in early February for basically nothing, and they've already announced that rookie Nick Foles is the starter for the final four games of this season, whether Vick gets healthy or not. A change at head coach is expected, so there's little way of knowing how to handicap the Eagles' 2013 plans at quarterback, but it's safe to assume they won't be bringing Vick back on his current contract after the way this season has gone.
But as Ashley points out, there's a wide range of opinions on whether Vick could find a job as a starting quarterback somewhere else, given that he'll be 33, doesn't seem to be able to get through a 16-game season healthy, wasn't playing that well in the first place and now has a serious concussion question hanging over him:
"He's got a problem figuring out where to go," one scout said.
Not so, said a general manager.
"I definitely believe there will be opportunities for him," the general manager said. "There are people out there that are just clamoring and struggling and trying to find any semblance of a quarterback. Although Michael hasn't performed, there are a lot of reasons for that. I still think he's an incredibly talented athlete. He can move the ball around the field. If used properly, he can win games and win playoff games."
I tend to side with Ashley's GM on this, but maybe that's because I watched Ryan Lindley "play quarterback" for the Cardinals last week in a game in which the other team benched its starter at halftime and can't help but believe that there are teams out there for whom Vick is simply better than what they currently have. I think part of his problem is that he won't appeal to teams as a viable or helpful backup, but there are going to have to be teams that would bring him in to at least compete for their starting job in training camp. He no longer brings the off-field baggage he used to, just the questions about on-field performance and health.
But for me, the most intriguing possibility for Vick is remaining in Philadelphia, even without Andy Reid, on a new and reduced contract. Ashley addresses this as well:
Depending on how Nick Foles plays these last few games, it is possible the Eagles will keep Vick. It is essentially a foregone conclusion that Reid will lose his job, but maybe the next coach will decide that Vick is the team's best option for 2013, and maybe Vick is willing to renegotiate a more realistic salary given his performance.
Yes, it is entirely possible that Vick in Philadelphia could be the best option for both the Eagles and Vick in 2013. His loyalty and gratitude to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie for the chance he got when he was released from prison won't leave with Reid. He has roots down in Philadelphia, and likely some sense of unfinished business. Assuming Foles doesn't light the place up over the next four weeks, Vick could be sitting there in the offseason convinced of his ability to beat out Foles for the starting job.
And from the team's standpoint, there doesn't seem to be an easy answer if Vick leaves and they're not convinced on Foles. If the standings ended up the way they are now, the Eagles would hold the No. 4 pick in the draft, and they're playing like a team eminently capable of moving up to a higher pick. But there doesn't appear to be an Andrew Luck/Robert Griffin III franchise-quarterback option available at the top of this year's draft, and their best option on the veteran market might be the uninspiring Alex Smith. It's not insane to think that bringing back Vick (again, for less money than his current deal would pay him) and giving him another shot in Philadelphia would be off the table.
Anyway, lots of questions still to be answered there in Philadelphia, but this is one to which I don't think the Eagles yet have their answer.