Decision on Michael Vick Could Be Coming for Eagles by Next Week

Decision on Michael Vick Could Be Coming for Eagles by Next Week

Up to this point, we can only speculate who Chip Kelly and
the Eagles will roll with under center next season. Nick Foles seems the
logical choice, if only because he’s under contract and has shown some potential,
but there is also talk coming out of the Senior Bowl that they could look to the
draft. Then there is Michael Vick, who some people still maintain would be a
fit for Kelly’s spread offense.

Believe it or not, the Super Bowl of all events could bring
some clarity to this picture. That’s because as soon as the clock hits zero on
the big game this Sunday, the timer starts ticking on a short three-day window where
the Eagles must release Vick in order to avoid paying him a roster bonus.

The Eagles have until Wednesday, February 6 to reach a decision
on Vick before they owe him $3 million. Assuming he isn’t part of the franchise’s
long-term plans, why give him another penny?

Of course, there is this belief Vick could play quarterback
in Kelly’s system, but even if that were the case, there are several roadblocks
standing in the way.

For starters, Vick has a base salary of around $16 million
in 2013, far more than the Eagles are likely willing to pay. Between his
inability to stay healthy and generally substandard performance, a 33-year-old
Vick simply is not worth that level of financial investment. He is unlikely to want
to renegotiate, too, whether out of personal pride or because he would prefer
to hand-pick his next situation.

It might be false to presume Vick would mesh with Kelly’s
philosophies anyway. That line of thinking seems largely based around the
notion this style of offense will require a mobile quarterback – not that injury-prone
Vick could withstand it anyway – but Kelly himself has nixed that idea. In
fact, Vick’s penchant for sacks and turning the ball over probably make him a
less-than-ideal candidate to run Kelly’s offense, or any offense for that
matter.

Vick doesn’t appear to have much working in his favor as far
as staying in Philadelphia is concerned. What about beyond the supposed
deadline though?

It’s possible. By NFL standards, $3 million isn’t a ton of
money, so the Eagles could conceivably pay that, and then… well that’s just it.
Think it over some more? As if the tape is going to show them something
different. Hold a quarterback competition? That sounds like a fine use of a $16
million player.

If the team is going to move on no matter what, why wait? After
all, the Eagles have never been an organization to pass up a savings.

The only other conceivable reason they would hold off is if
they were attempting to trade Vick, which will be easier said than done. The
Eagles are not the only front office that is going to have qualms about shelling
out that kind of money for a deteriorating quarterback who was vastly overrated
even at the pinnacle of his playing career. Unless Vick was willing to
renegotiate for another club, there is little chance of this happening.

And then what kind of return would the Birds get on Vick –
enough to merit playing this game of chicken? Is covering the $3
million roster bonus worth it to net a pair of mid-round draft picks that
wouldn’t earn that much combined over the entirety of their rookie deals?

It would be nice if they could get anything at all in return
for a quarterback that will probably move on and start someplace else for
another a season or two, but it may not be all that feasible. And maybe he can
play in the spread, maybe not, but that’s an awful lot of cash to commit to
maybes. The likeliest scenario is the Eagles let Vick go next week, because it might be the only scenario that makes sense.

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Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).