Michael Vick has been reinstated to the NFL in what commissioner Roger Goodell calls a transitional plan. It's on Vick to live up to the promises he made in his life-management plan and presented to Goodell, with the help of mentor Tony Dungy. Now the question is: Can Vick still play quarterback at a high level?
No doubt the teams that haven't completely ruled out the idea of signing Vick have studied tape and refreshed their memories about the last two or three seasons he played. Teams could have signed Vick right after the Atlanta Falcons released him in June, but no one did because of uncertainty as to what sanctions Goodell would impose. Now they have an idea of when Vick could be eligible to play.
A workout in shorts in the next few days at an undisclosed site might tell very little about what Vick has left after missing two full seasons. The last pass he threw was in 2006. Let's take a look at the last few seasons that Vick played in Atlanta when he practiced every day and the offense was built around him.
In 2005 and 2006, Vick led the Falcons to a 14-18 record. It wasn't all his fault by any means, but here are some of the numbers that you have to look at when considering whether or not Vick can come in and help your team. He was 2-7 in his last nine starts, with 10 touchdown passes, eight interceptions and 24 sacks. The sacks jump out at you right away, but when you look at his sacks over his last three seasons in the league, it comes as no surprise.
Vick was sacked 124 times in those three seasons -- close to one sack every 10 pass attempts. For a guy with his athletic ability and speed, that is an alarming number. Was it his lack of decision-making skills that got him sacked? Was it poor blocking up front? More likely a combination. Still, Vick hasn't made a passing decision since 2006, so his skills aren't as sharp as they used to be (let alone improved with experience).
Then the fumble issue must be brought into the equation. Vick fumbled 36 times in his last three seasons -- an average of 12 per year. Again, no workout in shorts in front of a few scouts and general managers will disclose if Vick can avoid sacks and fumbles.
The good news might be that Vick can still run. In fact, he was a 1,000-yard rusher in his last season. Unless you are building a better "Wildcat," however, that might not interest your team. But if I were looking to expand or install a Wildcat package, I would perform my due diligence on Vick, and that would mean the following things:
1. I would spend a few hours alone with Tony Dungy and let him convince me why the risk of signing Vick would be tolerable.
2. I would put Vick through a Bill Belichick-style workout. I watched Belichick work guys out to exhaustion to see how fast they broke down, how quickly skills diminished and what was left in the tank. If Vick didn't want to perform the workout, the experiment would end right there.
3. I would try to get the commissioner to go over everything he learned about Vick during the last two years.
4. I would spell out to Vick how we would use him this year, with no promises that we would let him compete for the real quarterback spot the following year.
5. I would offer only a minimum-wage contract and insist on a second year with a slight bump in pay. If someone else offered more money or a one-year deal, I would walk away.
6. I would add a few things to his life-management plan specific to our community that he had to complete before the season started.
If Vick agreed to all those parameters, then he could be a member of our team. If not, then we would prepare to play against him.