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Eagles unlikely to let Vick leave as free agent

Each successive stunning performance has made it a virtual certainty the Philadelphia Eagles won't let Mike Vick walk as an unrestricted free agent in 2011. Sources close to Vick anticipate the quarterback will be bound to the Eagles for at least 2011, most likely by a franchise tag designation.

There have been no contract discussions between the sides, according to source. And no offers have been floated by either side. But the Eagles' devotion to Vick has been apparent, as has their willingness to put the development of prized back-up Kevin Kolb on hold, and Vick would be shocked if he hits the open market.

League sources both at the NFL and NFL Players Association level believe there will be some sort of franchise player distinction in a new collective bargaining agreement, whenever one is completed, and that the tag for a quarterback will be roughly $20 million in 2011.

After restoring both Vick's career, and reputation, and creating a climate conducive to the former Pro Bowl selection playing at a level unlike what many have ever seen from that position, rival executives I've spoken to said there is absolutely no way the Eagles let him walk.

Sources close to Vick do not anticipate the Eagles, who are 6-3 and share first place in the NFC East with the New York Giants after Monday night's Vick-led, 59-28 demolition of the Washington Redskins, starting contracts talks now. They want Vick to continue focusing on football.

There is much uncertainty about a new CBA and its various parameters. The Eagles know how comfortable Vick is in Philadelphia both as a player and a person, and Vick said last week that he would always consider how he was welcomed and accepted by the Eagles should he ever have a free-agent decision to make.

Given Vick's financial issues -- including the millions he owes to various creditors -- pocketing $20-plus million in 2011 would be a substantial development. In the future, if healthy, he knows he could average in that range per season on a new deal and pick up somewhere in the range of $40-$50 million guaranteed.

But given all of his past off-field issues, and that he is now being asked to handle true success and stardom for the first time since his incarceration, the Eagles also know there is no need to fast-track a deal.

Should Vick remain an Eagle for years to come, Philadelphia could shop Kevin Kolb -- he would be seen by many teams as the best young veteran option available in 2011.

In the past, the Eagles had put a price tag of at least a first-round pick on the promising youngster. While they feel like Kolb could be a star, no one else in the NFL possesses Vick's skill set, and few have had more success recently developing quarterbacks like Andy Reid. The Eagles believe Mike Kafka, who was drafted in 2010, could be at least a solid back-up in the NFL, and Vick is just 30, three years younger than Tom Brady, for instance.

Given the reckless abandon with which Vick sometimes runs, there are obvious injury concerns, but Vick's body is also younger and fresher, considering he has not played a full season since 2006, and was brought along slowly in 2009 after returning to football.

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