The Philadelphia Eagles let Feb. 6 come and go with Michael Vick still on the roster. This is a far different outcome than what was expected weeks ago, yet the Eagles found a loophole to avoid paying Vick $3 million yesterday. Now they have until March 12 to make their final decision, but there is no urgency to do so yet.
According to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport on Feb. 6, an Eagles source told him that “there’s no real urgency on our part to do something this minute” on Vick. If anything, Philadelphia seems set to wait until the last possible minute to make a choice, and it may have no choice but to do so.
March 12 is the beginning of free agency, when the Eagles either have to let Vick become available or keep him under contract. By then, Philadelphia should know if there are any enticing quarterbacks they can sign or trade for, like Alex Smith. The Eagles should also have a better idea about the NFL draft crop, and whether a mobile quarterback like Geno Smith is worth looking at.
With Vick’s age, injuries and the $15.5 million he is due in 2013, the Eagles would truly have to have no options if they’re going to keep him. As such, they need as much time as humanly possible to examine every alternative. Although there’s no longer any urgency to do it right now, Philadelphia will need to lay the groundwork soon enough.
If they can’t find a suitable replacement for Vick, or work with the one they already have in Nick Foles, then the biggest obstacle is restructuring Vick’s contract. His salary for 2013 will have to be cut one way or another, although neither side has budged yet. By the time March 12 arrives, however, there will have to be real progress on a restructured deal if Vick is going to stay.
If the Eagles can’t make that happen and if there are no backup plans by then, the team will be in a dire pickle. They have five weeks to avoid that worst-case scenario, which should ideally be plenty of time. But once time runs short, Philadelphia has to ramp up its efforts to make this franchise-altering decision.