Apparently, the high-flying, new-look Chip Kelly Eagles will resemble the sad, old, last-place Andy Reid Eagles a little more than expected.
Meet Michael Vick, quarterback of the Eagles.
“Michael will be back next season with us,” Kelly said Monday.
Earlier Monday, the Eagles announced that they had restructured Vick’s contract, tearing up the 2013, 2014 and 2015 seasons, worth a total of $41.5 million, and replacing them with what is essentially a one-year, $7.5 million deal for 2013.
"I am grateful and proud to be a Philadelphia Eagle," Vick tweeted. "My heart is in Philly and this community is important to me."
Kelly said Vick will compete with Nick Foles for the starting quarterback job this coming season. Foles replaced Vick for the last six games of 2012 and completed 61 percent of his passes while throwing for 243 yards per game, something no other NFL rookie quarterback has ever done.
Essentially, Kelly decided that he’d be better off in his first year as an NFL head coach with a 33-year-old quarterback who hasn’t won a playoff game in nine years and a second-year pro with one career win than trying to find a quarterback in a weak QB draft class and a non-existent free agency class.
“You have to look at the landscape for other quarterbacks,” Kelly said.
So it’ll be Vick vs. Foles for the opening-day quarterback job.
“There is an open competition,” Kelly said. “Michael knows that. Nick knows that. Nick knew every step of the way what we were doing. I wanted to make sure Nick was included in the plans, and I think both of them have outstanding qualities in terms of being quarterbacks in this league. Both of them have started in this league.
“I also know in this league, you better have two, so I'm excited about the two of them. They're both going to compete. And who the starting quarterback is to start the season off is going to be won on the practice field.”
Kelly said Foles and Vick will both get reps with the starting offense once the spring minicamps roll around in April.
Veteran Trent Edwards, who threw just two passes last year, is also under contract.
Despite everything Kelly said and despite Vick’s contract restructure, the Eagles still have the flexibility to release Vick or trade him before the season starts.
“We're not ruling out anything right now,” Kelly said. “I think our job and we know that from day one, is to put the best team on the field. We open up the season on Sept. 13 or whatever day we open the season on. So I don't rule anything out, I don't rule anything in.”
According to a league source, the contract includes a $3.5 million base salary, a $3.5 million signing bonus payable on April 15, a $500,000 roster bonus, a $500,000 incentive bonus if he plays 50 percent of the Eagles' offensive snaps, another $1 million if he plays 90 percent of the snaps and another $1 million if he quarterbacks the Eagles to a Super Bowl championship. Vick was originally due $15.5 million this year. If he meets all the incentives and the Eagles win the Super Bowl, he can earn as much as $10 million.
Vick went 8-2 in his first 10 starts with the Eagles and is 10-15 in 25 starts since. Granted, any evaluation of Vick and Foles last year must be taken in the context of an offensive line that finished the season with just one projected starter.
Kelly said that after evaluating film of Vick from last year and meeting with him twice, he’s convinced he can still be an effective starter.
“What I look at is skill set first and foremost,” he said. “What he can do, how he can throw the football, how he can beat people with his feet. ... The velocity on the football, how quick does it get out of his hands?
“And one of the things when you look at Michael is his toughness. That can't be overrated at all at the quarterback spot, to be able to stand in there and deliver the football. There are a lot of different factors he has.
“I guess the best way I can put this is I agree there is a change of scenery going on here. For Michael Vick, there is a change of scenery, but not a change of address.
“I think he still has a skill set. He can throw the football, he's got a quick release, and obviously, we know he can take off and run when necessary.
Although Vick’s restructured deal is technically a three-year deal, the 2014 and 2015 seasons will automatically void on March 15, a league source said.
Vick has missed 11 games with injuries over the last three years and lost his starting job to Foles after returning from a concussion last December, although he did start the season finale when Foles was hurt.
Kelly said he remains high on Foles as well and believes both can comfortably run the high-octane system he plans to bring to Philly.
“There is a skill set that Nick has that really excites me about him,” Kelly said. “And I had the opportunity to see him up close and personal for three years, and I know what he can do, so I'm excited to work with him.”
So if Foles wins the preseason competition with Vick, will Vick be content to be a backup, something he hasn’t been since 2001 with Chris Chandler in Atlanta?
“Yeah, he didn't give me any indication except he wanted to be here,” Kelly said.
Kelly said Vick won him over when the two met recently, the first time they had ever spoken.
“Talk to me about your life, talk to me about where you're coming from, and talk to me about your mindset,” Kelly said he told Vick. “The one thing that attracted me to Michael after visiting with him, he's a competitor. I don't think he's afraid of anything, and he wants competition.
“I think we've got an older quarterback in Michael who is 32 now (he turns 33 in June), and have a younger guy in Nick who is going into his second year, and I think it's the ideal situation for us moving forward this season.
“Moving forward we, as an organization, had to make a decision what to do with Michael, and I want Michael to be part of this team.”