ESPN's John Clayton ranked the 10 worst contracts in the NFL on Thursday, and Michael Vick's (supposed) six-year deal worth $100 million made the list. Actually, it was second.
2. Michael Vick, QB, Philadelphia Eagles (six years, $100 million): The Eagles are coming off a bye week in which Andy Reid fired defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, and he is evaluating every position. Vick is the quarterback for now, but after the so-called "Dream Team" didn't make the playoffs last season, the 3-3 start has everything under review. Reid could be in trouble if the Eagles don't make the playoffs, and that would affect Vick. He has $47.5 million coming to him in 2013-15, but the Eagles might try to get out of the deal if Reid is gone.
Clayton is certainly spot on in his assessment that everything is about to come under review, so at face value, Vick's enormous contract does look like a mistake. It's not really so simple as that though.
For one thing, the fact that we even still refer to this contract as six years, $100 million is ludicrous. As Clayton appears to be aware, the final year (2016) and change ($20 million) already voided. In fact, they voided when Vick played in 35% of the team's offensive snaps in 2011 -- the first year of the contract -- and would have voided had he done that it any season over the life of the contract.
Six years, $100 million was a farce. It's five years at $80.
Next, Clayton opined the Eagles might "try" to get out of the contract in the near future. As has been pointed out before, and increasingly more of late, the team can very easily get out from under Vick's contract as early as next season. Only $3 mil of next year's base salary is guaranteed, and according to EaglesCap.com, the total cap hit to cut Vick would be a little more than $7 mil. It gets even easier move on in years four and five.
$7 million is a tough pill to swallow, but not prohibitively so. It's an amount that will at least make the front office think twice about outright dumping Vick, which it's a little premature to assume the Eagles will take that route anyway.
Which brings us to the final aspect of Vick's deal: the cold, hard cash. Is he overpaid based on his performance this season and last? You can very easily make that case -- his average salary of $16 million per year is third behind only Drew Brees ($20) and Peyton Manning ($19.2).
Still, the reality is starting quarterbacks make a lot of money in the NFL, which Clayton notes himself when ripping Carson Palmer's deal. Kevin Kolb averages $10.5M, based on the assumption he would be a starter. Kansas City's Matt Cassel -- who just lost his job to Brady Quinn or would otherwise give Vick some competition for the coveted turnover record -- averages $10.5M from a long-term deal signed back in '09. The Jets recently extended Mark Sanchez at $11.6 per for who knows what reason, the Raiders handed Palmer $10.7 to come out of retirement. (Numbers courtesy of spotrac.)
Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean the Eagles made the right call when they gave Vick all that money. In fact, all four of those players happen to appear on Clayton's list. That said, seeing as the organization built so many outs into the contract, it's hard to understand where Clayton was coming from here. They're not locked down long-term, and they still have a quarterback who gives them a chance to win every week -- and I wouldn't necessarily say the same for those other guys. It seems with so many teams stuck paying for nothing, it's safe to say Vick's placement was an exaggeration to say the least.