The Atlanta Falcons will attempt to reclaim $22 million in bonuses already paid to Michael Vick, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Saturday, citing an unnamed source with knowledge of the team's plans.
Vick was suspended indefinitely from the National Football League on Friday, hours after he filed a plea agreement with federal prosecutors in which he admitted to bankrolling a dogfighting operation.
Roger Goodell, the NFL commissioner, on Friday said Vick's admitted conduct was "not only illegal but also cruel and reprehensible." Even if he didn't
personally place bets, Goodell said, "your actions in funding the betting and your association with illegal gambling both violate the terms of your NFL player contract and expose you to corrupting
influences in derogation of one of the most fundamental responsibilities of an NFL player.''
Goodell freed the Falcons to "assert any claims or remedies" to recover $22 million of Vick's signing bonus from the 10-year, $130 million contract he signed in 2004.
However, Vick must remain on the Falcons' roster for the club to reclaim any money -- precluding the team from cutting ties with the quarterback until the matter is resolved, the person familiar with the situation told the newspaper.
If Atlanta receives the bonus money from Vick, it will be applied to the team's salary cap for the following season. If, for example, the team recouped all $22 milllion, that figure would be credited to the team for the 2008 salary cap.
On Friday, Vick filed his plea agreement in federal court admitting to conspiracy in a dogfighting ring and agreeing that the enterprise included killing pit bulls and gambling. He denied making side bets on the fights, but admitted to bankrolling them. He will appear in U.S. District Court on Monday in Richmond, Va. to formally enter his plea.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.