The Philadelphia Eagles expect NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to issue a ruling on Michael Vick's possible full reinstatement before Saturday's mandatory league-wide cutdown to the 53-man roster, league sources told ESPN.
Under the conditional reinstatement imposed in July, Vick may not begin playing in regular-season games until Goodell's notification, which must come by Week 6. But Eagles head coach Andy Reid and team president Joe Banner have been in weekly contact with Goodell, updating him on Vick's behavior and progress, while also seeking from the commissioner a clearer understanding of when he will rule on Vick's reinstatement.
Goodell has wide latitude to make a ruling up to Week 6, and he can force Vick to sit out any number of games this season. But it is widely believed that he will allow Vick to return to full-time duty by Week 3, when the Eagles host the Kansas City Chiefs, according to those close to Vick and the Eagles.
Goodell and Vick will be meeting "soon," according to a league source. Before Goodell makes his ruling, he wants to hear from Vick personally on his progress. Goodell said on Tuesday he has been talking to Vick on a weekly basis. "A lot of those issues I'm focusing on are off the field," Goodell said. "How is he dealing with the transition? ... Does he have the right people around him helping him make decisions?"
The reason the Eagles want an early ruling from Goodell is simple: They want to put together their 53-man roster. If Goodell notifies the team that Vick is, for example, available to play no earlier than Week 3, the team may opt to put Vick on the roster exempt list, carrying only quarterbacks Donovan McNabb, Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.
If Vick is on the exempt list, he cannot practice with the team until he's put back on the 53-man roster. So, putting Vick on the exempt list could retard his progress in the offense.
But if the Eagles carry Vick, they would not likely carry four quarterbacks, and Feeley would be the odd man out. Several teams have been inquiring about Feeley, including the New England Patriots. The Eagles are in the market for a tight end and the Patriots have four viable tight ends on their roster.
On Tuesday, members of the Eagles' front office met for the second time with leaders of Philadelphia-area animal rights groups. None of those local groups has agreed to partner up with Vick for a local anti-dogfighting campaign. No local event with Vick has been announced.
Sal Paolantonio is a reporter for ESPN.