The Eagles have given Michael Vick his long-awaited contract extension, a blockbuster six-year deal worth 100 million that includes 36 million in guaranteed components and makes him the highest-paid player in Eagles history and third-highest-paid quarterback in NFL history.
Vick had been playing on a one-year franchise tag worth 16.057 million. The new deal gives the Eagles his rights through the 2016 season.
Vick, released from prison in the spring of 2009 after serving more than a year and a half at Leavenworth Penitentiary on felony dogfighting charges, took over for Kevin Kolb as the Eagles No. 1 quarterback early last year and went on to become the league's Comeback Player of the Year.
The only quarterbacks now earning more money per year than Vick are Super Bowl winners Tom Brady (18.01 million per year) and Peyton Manning (18 million per year).
Vicks deal averages out to 16.67 million per year, which moves him ahead of Eli Manning (16.25 million average salary), Philip Rivers (15.3 million average), Jay Cutler (14.67 million) and Ben Roethlisberger (14.66 million) among the highest-paid quarterbacks in football.
The Eagles had until Sept. 20 to sign Vick or they would have had to wait until the season was over to try and negotiate a new deal for him. By doing the deal now, they not only give themselves more cap space in 2011, they eliminate a headache that would have been hanging over them all year if nothing was done by Sept. 20.
Vick has said repeatedly he hopes to finish his career with the Eagles, the only team that showed a true interest in signing him when he was released from federal custody two years ago.
Obviously, I would like to, he said after the lockout ended. Definitely.
Because Vicks 2011 cap figure in the new deal is less than it was under the tender about 14.4 million as compared to 16.057 million the Eagles gain a little over 1.6 million in much-needed cap space.
Eagles President Joe Banner has said that inking Vick to a cap-friendly long-term deal would make it easier to ultimately sign Pro Bowl wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who enters the 2011 season on the final year of a four-year deal that pays him the league fourth-year minimum of 600,000 this year.
Before the Vick deal, the Eagles had 2,123,094 available under their adjusted 2011 salary cap of 125,570,335, so they move forward with about 3.7 million now available.
Vick, 31, went 8-3 in 11 games as a starter last year, his first year as a starter since 2006. He threw 21 touchdowns and six interceptions and compiled a career-high 100.2 passer rating, second-highest in franchise history behind Donovan McNabbs 104.7 figure in 2004. Vick also rushed for 676 yards and nine more touchdowns.
The contract extension marks the latest chapter in a remarkable personal turnaround for Vick, who spent the 2007 and 2008 seasons in prison, was forced to declare bankruptcy in 2008 because he had so many financial obligations he couldnt pay, spent the 2009 season as the Eagles third-string quarterback and hasnt started a season opener in five years.
Vick is the third quarterback the Eagles signed in the last three years to a contract averaging over 12 million per year.
On June 12, 2009, they signed Donovan McNabb to a two-year deal averaging 12.1 million per year. After they traded McNabb to the Redskins in April 2010, they signed Kevin Kolb to a one-year, 12.26 million contract. They traded Kolb to the Cards in late July, opening the way for Vick to become their unchallenged franchise quarterback.
The previous most lucrative long-term deal the Eagles gave a player was Jason Peters 2010 deal, worth an average of 12.8625 million.
Vick said throughout training camp that the ongoing contract talks were not a distraction.
My main priority right now is to be the best football player in practice that I can be and let that carry over into the game and let things happen when theyre supposed to, he said.
So thats always been my approach. You play good enough, you play well, and you impress the people who expect a lot out of you, good things happen.
If its supposed to happen, itll happen. The worst thing you can do is think about it. Thats always been my approach.
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com.