The Falcons’ decision to try and trade the rights for imprisoned and suspended quarterback Michael Vick comes as no major surprise. The team announced the move via its Web site early Friday afternoon but it made its intentions clear 10 months ago when it drafted quarterback Matt Ryan with the third overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and signed him to a six-year, $72 million contract.
Ryan’s success only furthered the distance between the Falcons and Vick — and today’s announcement makes everything all but official. Vick is nearing the end of a 23-month sentence in a federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., after pleading guilty to dogfighting charges in August of 2007. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Vick indefinitely, as well, around the time of his guilty plea. Vick is scheduled to be released this summer and he could be moved to a halfway house near his hometown of Newport News, Va., in the near future.
Atlanta probably would take anything it can get for Vick’s rights, which might not be much since there is no indication as to when/if that suspension will be lifted. Players under suspension are allowed to have their rights traded. There are no assurances that any team would part with anything for Vick and Atlanta could eventually cut him. However, it could be a low-risk move to acquire Vick — if a team is willing to part with even a conditional draft pick, and it is willing take everything that will come with bringing him on board.
Should Vick ever play again — he has said, through lawyers that he would like to — the negative attention that accompanied the dogfighting saga will follow. The volume might not be as loud as it was two summers ago, but it will be there. The noise eventually will die down, and -if Vick has learned his lesson and commits to being a solid citizen and someone who respects everything that comes with playing the game, he could redeem himself in a major way. He was the most intriguing player to play the quarterback position — in terms of highlight-film plays and unpredictability — and there were few players on the field who competed as hard as him.
There are several teams that need quarterbacks and with Vick’s special abilities; he could be a special fit into some of the creative schemes, like the Wildcat formation. There has been talk about Vick playing another position outside of quarterback, but that is the position he’s played all his life and that is the position where he earned three Pro Bowl appearances.
It is difficult to handicap where Vick could land, especially since he hasn’t played in two seasons and might need a season just to get his bearings. Several teams need starting and backup quarterbacks and several front office people said someone will give Vick a shot. It’s just a matter of what team that would be.