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What the Vick signing means to the Eagles

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After dramatically retooling their offense with a series of blockbuster moves during the offseason, the Eagles have made their biggest gamble to bolster the unit by signing Michael Vick on the night of their preseason opener.

The Eagles agreed to a two-year deal with the three-time Pro Bowler that will pay him $1.6 million this season and include a team option reportedly valued at $5 million in 2010.

With so much scrutiny and intrigue accompanying the acquisition, let's take a look at how the signing impacts the Eagles and the rest of the league:

Why would the Eagles sign Vick?

The Eagles have been bitten by the injury bug during the early part of training camp, and Vick's signing serves as insurance against an injury to Donovan McNabb. Though the team had Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley in place as McNabb's backups, Vick gives the team a dynamic playmaker to serve as the team's No. 2 quarterback. Although Vick is only a 53-percent passer throughout his career, his explosive running ability and improvisational skills make him a dangerous threat outside of the pocket.

Moreover, his explosiveness makes an intriguing weapon as part of the Eagles' version of the "Wildcat" formation. As a legitimate quarterback running the modified single-wing formation, Vick could prove to be a difficult matchup for opposing defenses. Furthermore, he gives the Eagles another talented player on their roster who could emerge as a starter for them or be used as trade bait in the future. Regardless, his signing potentially gives the team numerous options and flexibility for the future.

Does he fit into their system?

Yes. The Eagles' West Coast offense is very similar to the system he directed during his final three seasons in Atlanta under Greg Knapp. Though some of the verbiage utilized within the scheme is different, the fact that the basic concepts of the offense are the same will undoubtedly accelerate Vick's learning curve in the Eagles' offense. Additionally, the team's scheme is adaptable to Vick's skill-set if he had to assume a starting role at some point. The Eagles have a host of play-action passes available in their playbook, so Andy Reid could tweak his play calling to maximize the seventh-year pro's talent by using more bootleg or naked passes as part of the game plan.

What does it mean for McNabb?

The decision to add Vick to the roster doesn't have any immediate consequences for McNabb, but could change his long-term prospects with the team. The 10-year veteran has two years remaining on his deal, and the presence of Vick could give the team a "starter-in-waiting," provided he develops during his time as the Eagles' backup. Vick was once considered one of the league's brightest stars and his extraordinary talent led the Atlanta Falcons to a 38-28-1 record as a starter with two postseason appearances. If McNabb's play slips at all over the next two years while Vick regains his Pro Bowl form, the Eagles could opt to jettison the veteran at the end of his deal in favor of Vick.

Why was Philadelphia the best fit for Vick?

The Eagles have all of the key components necessary for Vick to thrive as a player and person. The team's organizational structure is considered one of the league's best, and Andy Reid has the strong personality to weather the negative publicity that could result from the signing. In addition, the presence of an established quarterback alleviates the pressure on Vick to jump right back onto the field in 2009. With McNabb in place, Vick can work on developing his game out of the limelight while mastering an offensive system that is prevalent throughout the league. Though this factor will not garner a lot of attention, the decision to spend more time learning the West Coast offense could pay significant dividends long-term as he attempts to rebuild his career in Philadelphia.

How does the Vick signing impact the rest of the league?

The Eagles' addition of Vick bolsters a roster that was already regarded as one of the league's best. He upgrades their talent at the quarterback position, giving the team a dynamic backup capable of stepping in for McNabb in the event of an injury. In addition, he creates a headache for opposing defensive coordinators due to the potential gimmicks and gadgets the Eagles can utilize with Vick in the backfield with McNabb. The Dolphins befuddled opponents with their version of the "Wildcat," but the Eagles could top that output with the presence of a legitimate quarterback as the triggerman. Given the parity that exists between the NFC's elite, Vick's signing could be the gamble that ultimately pushes the Eagles over the top.

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