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 NBA: Harden's 38-points fuels Rockets past Bucks

Best of NBA: Harden's 38-points fuels Rockets past Bucks

HOUSTON -- James Harden had 38 points, eight assists and six rebounds, and the Houston Rockets beat the Milwaukee Bucks 111-92 on Wednesday night.

Harden drilled a straightaway 3-pointer with six minutes left to give Houston a 13-point lead and shimmied his shoulders down the court in a celebratory dance as the Bucks called timeout.

After losing three of four, the Rockets regained their form while improving to 17-4 at home this season.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 32 points, 11 rebounds, six assists and three blocks for Milwaukee (see full recap).

Rose powers slumping Knicks past Celtics 117-106
BOSTON -- Derrick Rose matched his season high with 30 points, and the slumping New York Knicks beat the Boston Celtics 117-106 on Wednesday night.

New York played without injured starters Kristaps Porzingis and Joakim Noah, but Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez each scored 17 points to help make up for their absence. It was just the third win in 14 games for the Knicks.

Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 39 points, his 13th time this season with 30 or more points. Jae Crowder added 21 for the Celtics, who lost for only the fourth time in 17 games.

Al Horford, Boston's big free-agent acquisition during the summer, had five points on 2-of-14 shooting. He was 1 for 8 on 3-point attempts.

Boston closed to 97-96 on Jaylen Brown's two free throws with just under eight minutes to play, but Justin Holiday and Courtney Lee nailed 3-pointers 29 seconds apart, pushing New York's lead back to seven. Rose then capped an 8-0 spree by putting in his own miss after Thomas missed a jumper -- his seventh straight shot that was off (see full recap).

Home cooking: Wiz top Grizz 104-101, 13th win in row in DC
WASHINGTON -- A vastly different team at home, the Wizards won their 13th consecutive game in Washington by edging the Memphis Grizzlies 104-101 Wednesday night behind two late layups from John Wall, who finished with 25 points and 13 assists.

James Ennis III missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer for Memphis.

The Wizards are just 4-13 on the road but now 18-6 at home, where they've compiled their longest winning streak since a 15-game run in the 1988-89 season.

Washington never trailed and led by as many as 19 points in the first half, then held on after a 10-0 run by Memphis made it a two-point game with 2 1/2 minutes left. That's when Wall took over, scoring on consecutive drives (see full recap).

Walker, Hibbert lead Hornets past Blazers 107-85
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kemba Walker scored 23 points, Roy Hibbert provided a huge boost off the bench, and the Charlotte Hornets stopped a five-game slide with a 107-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Nicolas Batum added 17 points for the Hornets, who limited the Trail Blazers to 35 percent shooting and snapped an eight-game streak of allowing at least 100 points. But it was the 7-foot-2 Hibbert who stole the show.

Hibbert, who came in averaging 5.2 points per game, had a season-high 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting.

Damian Lillard scored 21 points and C.J. McCollum had 18 for Portland, which has lost three straight and 16 of 22 since Dec. 5 (see full recap).

Penn State falls to Indiana, 78-75, on buzzer 3-pointer

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Penn State falls to Indiana, 78-75, on buzzer 3-pointer

BOX SCORE

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Shep Garner gathered his teammates along Penn State's bench to remind them they needed one more stop to head to overtime.

Indiana's James Blackmon was ready to head home, however.

Blackmon took an in-bounds pass with less than five seconds to go, sprinted down the court and drained a 3-pointer to lift the Hoosiers to a 78-75 win over Penn State on Wednesday night.

Blackmon, Thomas Bryant and Robert Johnson all scored 17 points for the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) who survived a late Penn State rally.

"They definitely grew up," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "It wasn't easy, but they definitely earned the victory. It would've been a shame if they hadn't gotten this win because they earned it."

Tony Carr scored a career-best 24 points and Garner added 15 for the Nittany Lions (11-8, 3-3) who trailed by 14 with 9:19 left. Garner brought Penn State within striking distance with a 3-pointer that cut it to 75-73 with 39 seconds to play.

It was the second straight win for the Hoosiers (13-6, 3-3 Big Ten) who took control by halftime and led the entire second half until a pair of Lamar Stevens free throws tied the game with less than five seconds left.

"I'm really proud of the kids, the way they fought back," Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. "I felt like Penn State really hurt Penn State tonight, missed layups, little things. If we shoot better from the free-throw line, maybe the outcome's different."

Memories of Watford
There's a good reason Blackmon's shot was strikingly similar to the one Christian Watford sank at the buzzer to beat then-No. 1 Kentucky in 2011.

"It was the same play-call," Crean said. "But we got open differently. Usually we run off a screen but in this case we knew they'd switch it so James did a great job of setting it up."

Penn State coaches and players knew they'd have to defend a similar play, Chambers made note of it in his scouting report, but Blackmon was able to slip past Josh Reaves at midcourt and pull up over Julian Moore to hit the winning basket.

Rim un-protected
Indiana didn't have as big of a challenge on the glass with Penn State's designated rim-protector Mike Watkins in early foul trouble. Penn State's leading rebounder played just 13 minutes and finished with no rebounds.

The Hoosiers won the battle on the glass 37-33 and Penn State made just 21 of 31 free throws.

Hurt Hoosier
Indiana lost OG Anunoby on the final play of the first half to a right knee injury. The sophomore forward came down after battling for an offensive rebound and crumpled to the floor where he clutched at his right knee before trainers helped him slowly to the locker room. He did not return.

Anunoby started eight games and was tied for sixth in the Big Ten with 1.4 steals per game.

Crean said Anunoby would be evaluated when the team returned to Bloomington.

The big picture
Indiana: The Hoosiers entered Wednesday's game having lost five of their last eight. They'll have a chance to gain momentum with four of their next five against middle-of-the-pack Big Ten foes before a trip to Madison to take on No. 17 Wisconsin on Feb. 5.

Penn State: The Nittany Lions' inability to put a full game together has to be grating on coach Patrick Chambers. Even in their last win against No. 24 Minnesota, the Nittany Lions were out of sorts early before a late rally paid off. They were competitive early and late in this one but sluggish and mistake-prone midway through when Indiana took over.

Up next
Indiana hosts Michigan State on Saturday.

Penn State plays at No. 22 Purdue on Saturday