Could Michael Vick remain in Philly beyond 2013—as a backup?

Could Michael Vick remain in Philly beyond 2013—as a backup?

Suppose Nick Foles plays well enough over the final six games in 2013 that the Eagles aren’t pigeonholed into drafting another quarterback. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but it’s not automatically the top priority going in.

Between Foles and Matt Barkley, Philadelphia has two quarterbacks under contract for next season. Most teams carry three, so assuming the Eagles don’t draft one, they need to sign a free agent—and who would be better suited for the job than Michael Vick?

Seriously. Vick already knows the system. He still has a cannon where his left arm is supposed to be, he can still run around and make things happen when he’s healthy. He was having an okay season until it was derailed by a hamstring injury. He’s proven he can win games in the NFL. He’s a great leader—underrated in fact. He’s perfect.

Even if the Eagles were interested in re-signing him, most people expect Vick to depart for a chance to catch on as a starter somewhere else. Well, what if nobody is willing to offer that opportunity to a 34-year-old quarterback entering his 12th season? That doesn’t sound far-fetched at all when you frame it like that.

And even if Vick is able to land a another starting gig, what does that situation look like? Who's to say the Eagles don't provide the best opportunity to make an impact in the NFL?

If Vick is going to be a backup somewhere, why not with the organization that helped him revive his career? Why not with Chip Kelly, whose offense fits Vick’s skill set? Why not with an up-and-coming franchise that appears poised to make some noise over the next few years?

Vick could potentially be coming on in relief during a playoff game somewhere down the road if he plays his cards right.

The four-time Pro Bowler has proven time and time again that he can accept the backup role. You know that he wants nothing more than to be out on the field leading his team to victory, but he’s never once complained about being on the bench. Not when he was behind Donovan McNabb, not when he was behind Kevin Kolb, and not now that he’s likely stuck behind Foles.

Actually, it was Vick’s response to Foles’ ascension that got me thinking he could return. The 11-year veteran has been nothing but supportive of all of his teammates, including the 24-year-old kid taking his job. Vick vowed on Tuesday that he wasn’t going to become a distraction. Via Jeff McLane of the Inquirer:

DO YOU STILL THINK THAT YOU'RE THE STARTER?

I don't know. That's not something that I'm thinking about at this point. The last thing I want to be is a distraction to this team. I'm just working hard to get myself healthy.

BUT HAVEN'T YOU SAID THAT YOU'VE ALWAYS CONSIDERED YOURSELF A STARTER?

I do consider myself a starter, but if coach has a viable explanation or good reason for why it should be anything different, I got to understand that. He's the coach. I'm the player. One thing about it, I'm confident in my abilities. We all know what I can do when I'm out there. I'm just an asset to this team as long as I'm here.

Vick also told Martin Frank of The Delaware News Journal that’s he’s “proud” of what Foles has accomplished. He’s not content to merely take on the role of cheerleader, either.

Vick has seen that improvement, and he plans to help Foles improve even more.

“Whatever I can do to help him, that’s what I’m going to do,” he said.

Perhaps a bigger issue than Vick wanting or not wanting to return is whether the organization would leave room for him. Regardless of whether it’s in round one or seven, if the front office intends to draft a quarterback, there goes that roster spot. And if they like what they’ve seen from Barkley, they may not want to block a developing young player with such a high-profile backup.

If the Eagles have their eyes on the Super Bowl in their short-term future though, they would be wise to keep a veteran backup in the fold. We’re four months away from the opening of free agency, but it’s hard to envision there could be a better option or fit.

Of course, there’s a lot to sort out before any of this becomes a reality. Foles needs to make the organization feel comfortable sticking with him through next season at least, and backup or starter, Vick shouldn’t have any trouble finding work this spring. Just don’t rule out the Eagles as the employer.

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

Best of NHL: Canadiens score 10 goals in rout of Avalanche

MONTREAL -- Max Pacioretty had four goals, Brian Flynn scored twice during a six-goal first period and the Montreal Canadiens routed the Colorado Avalanche 10-1 on Saturday night.

Flynn, Pacioretty and Artturi Lehkonen each scored against Calvin Pickard in the opening 7:12, and then Pacioretty, Paul Byron and Flynn each had a goal among the first four shots on Semyon Varlamov.

Pacioretty completed his hat trick in the second period and added another in the third to give the captain seven goals in his last four games.

Alexander Radulov and Jeff Petry also scored for Montreal, which has shown no drop-off without injured scoring leader and first-line center Alex Galchenyuk. Montreal outshot the Avs 36-16 (see full recap).

Malkin, Crosby lead Penguins past Lightning 4-3
TAMPA, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby had another eventful night.

The Penguins star returned after passing concussion protocol following a first-period hit to get his 20th goal, and that stoked Pittsburgh's rally for its latest victory.

Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both scored their second goals on third-period power plays, helping the Penguins come back to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3 on Saturday.

Crosby was shaken up by Luke Witkowski's check with eight minutes to go in the first but returned for the start of the second period (see full recap).

Late barrage helps Blue Jackets beat Islanders 6-2
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Jack Johnson, Cam Atkinson and Seth Jones each had a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets beat the New York Islanders 6-2 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

Josh Anderson, Brandon Saad and Lukas Sedlak also scored for Columbus and Sergei Bobrovsky had 25 saves.

Josh Bailey and John Tavares scored for New York, which had earned a point in a season-high five straight games (4-0-1). Jaroslav Halak made 32 saves until he was pulled after the Blue Jackets scored four consecutive goals in the third period.

Anderson put Columbus ahead 3-2 at 2:19 when he picked off a defensive pass and banged it in from the slot seconds after coming onto the ice for his shift (see full recap).

Matthews, Hyman score in 2nd, Maple Leafs beat Bruins 4-1
BOSTON -- The Toronto Maple Leafs found a way to overcome a poor opening period.

Auston Matthews and Zach Hyman scored in the second period, Frederik Andersen made 32 saves and the Maple Leafs beat the Boston Bruins 4-1 on Saturday night.

"The last three games the first period kind of did us in," Toronto coach Mike Babcock said. "We didn't start on time. We were able to hold on. It still wasn't the first period we wanted, but we didn't give up the goals and we were able to execute a little bit."

After managing only two shots on goal in the first, Toronto was happy to get to the dressing room with the game scoreless (see full recap).

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

Best of NBA: Grizzlies dominate throughout, crush Warriors

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Marc Gasol and Tony Allen scored 19 points each and the Memphis Grizzlies rolled over the Golden State Warriors 110-89 on Saturday night for their sixth straight win.

The Grizzlies led by as many as 30 points in the second half - the biggest advantage by any Warriors opponent this season. Seven Memphis players finished in double figures.

Kevin Durant led Golden State with 21 points, while Stephen Curry added 17 points and Ian Clark finished with 10 points. Curry and backcourt starter Klay Thompson (eight points) were a combined 8 of 28 from the field, including 3 of 14 outside the arc.

Memphis built a double-digit lead early, led 61-38 at halftime and kept building in the third quarter (see full recap).

Butler, Wade lead Bulls to 105-100 win over Heat
CHICAGO -- Jimmy Butler scored 31 points, Dwyane Wade added 28 against his former team and the Chicago Bulls held off the struggling Miami Heat 105-100 on Saturday night.

Butler scored Chicago's final 10 points to help the Bulls come out on top after Miami pulled within one.

Wade keyed a big third-quarter run in his second game against the Heat, and the Bulls hung on after handing San Antonio its first road loss two nights earlier.

Goran Dragic led Miami with 21 points and 11 assists. An energetic Hassan Whiteside added 20 points after being benched for part of Friday's blowout loss in Cleveland. Tyler Johnson scored 15, but the Heat dropped their fifth straight (see full recap).

LeBron scores 44, reaches assist mark as Cavs down Hornets
CLEVELAND -- LeBron James scored 17 of his season-high 44 points in the fourth quarter and reached another career milestone as the Cleveland Cavaliers won their fourth straight, 116-105 over the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday night.

James did it all, adding 10 assists and nine rebounds in 43 minutes. He took over in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight during one stretch to help the Cavs hold on.

As the final seconds ticked off, James stood at midcourt and spun the ball on his index finger as the crowd roared.

James, who moved into ninth place on the career scoring list Friday, recorded his 7,000th assist in the first half, becoming the first frontcourt player in NBA history to reach the plateau. James is the only player with 27,000 points and 7,000 assists (see full recap).

George has 37 points to lead Pacers over Blazers 118-111
INDIANAPOLIS -- Paul George scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Indiana Pacers over the Portland Trail Blazers 118-111 on Saturday night.

George made five 3-pointers, and Thaddeus Young hit six 3s while getting 24 points and nine rebounds. Myles Turner added 14 points for the Pacers, who had lost five straight regular season games to Portland.

C.J. McCollum made a career-high seven 3-pointers and had a season-best 34 points for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard had 33 points behind five 3s.

George scored 13 straight points in the fourth quarter for Indiana. He was fouled on the go-ahead basket with 4:36 remaining and completed the three-point play to give the Pacers a 108-105 lead (see full recap).