PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick took a significant pay cut to stay with the Philadelphia Eagles and compete for a starting job.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback agreed Monday to a restructured three-year contract with the Eagles, just two seasons after signing a $100 million extension that included $35.5 million in guaranteed money. The new deal is essentially for one-year, however.
A source familiar with the contract said Vick could earn up to $10 million in 2013 if he meets all his performance incentives, and the team will void the remaining two years on March 15. That person spoke on condition of anonymity because the terms haven’t been released.
Vick was slated to earn about $16 million next season, including a $3 million roster bonus. He lost his starting job to rookie Nick Foles last season, but new coach Chip Kelly will give him a chance to win it back.
“I am grateful and proud to be a Philadelphia Eagle,” Vick wrote on Twitter. “My heart is in Philly and this community is important to me.”
Vick had a breakout year in 2010, leading the Eagles to the NFC East title, winning The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award and starting in the Pro Bowl. But he’s battled injuries and inconsistency the last two years.
“What I look at is skillset first and foremost,” Kelly said. “What he can do, how he can throw the football, how he can beat people with his feet. There are a lot of different factors he has. And you have to look at the landscape for other quarterbacks. 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.”
Since the Eagles hired Kelly to replace Andy Reid, there’s been plenty of speculation about which quarterback will run his aggressive, up-tempo offense. Though Kelly has been effusive in his praise for Foles, the slow-footed, pocket-passer isn’t an ideal fit for a zone-read offense. Kelly, though, said he will cater his offense around his players’ strengths. After all, he’s known for being an offensive innovator who had tremendous success at Oregon.
“I don’t think what we do offensively can be said in one or two words that we’re either this or we’re this,” Kelly said. “We’re an equal-opportunity scoring operation. Whether we run the ball over the goal line or throw the ball over the goal line really doesn’t bother me, it’s how do we move the football.
“There have been games we’ve had to throw it in our league 50 times and there are games we have to run it 50 times. You need to be built for the long haul. There is a skill set that Nick has that really excites me about him. I think we’ve got an older quarterback in Michael who is 32 now, 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.”
Kelly didn’t rule out a trade, however.
“I don’t rule anything out, I don’t rule anything in,” he said. “But I know moving forward we, as an organization, had to make a decision on what to do with Michael, and I want Michael to be part of this team.”
Vick has missed 11 games because of injuries over the last three seasons. He sustained a concussion in Week 10 last year and Reid decided to let Foles play the rest of the way because the Eagles were in last place. They finished 4-12.
Vick returned to start the season finale against the New York Giants because Foles was hurt. He finished the year with 2,362 yards passing, 12 touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and also lost five fumbles.
A former No. 1 overall pick by Atlanta, Vick was signed by Philadelphia in 2009 after missing two years because he was in federal prison. He came in as the No. 3 quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb.
After McNabb was traded and Kolb was injured in the season opener in 2010, Vick took over and was outstanding. He had career highs in yards passing (3,018), completion percentage (62.6), touchdowns passing (21), touchdowns rushing (9) and passer rating (100.2).
But he hasn’t come close to playing up to that level. There are questions, of course, about his durability and his age — Vick will be 33 in July.
“He’s younger than (Dallas quarterback) Tony Romo, and he’s right about the same age as (Giants quarterback) Eli Manning,” Kelly said. “The only reason I say that is because I told Michael that this morning, and he didn’t know.”
Vick is undersized and stubborn about playing it safe. He usually takes on tacklers instead of running out of bounds and dives headfirst instead of sliding.
“I looked at the films, and studied the tape. When you look at Michael, it’s his toughness. That cannot be overrated at all,” Kelly said. “We looked at his skill set. He still has that skill set. He can still throw the football.
“He’s got an unbelievable release, and it’s our job as coaches to make sure he can get the ball out quickly.”
The Eagles scored just 280 points last season as they endured an eight- and a three-game losing streak. Only Arizona (250) scored fewer in the NFC.
When asked whether Vick or Foles would work with the first-team offense in training camp, Kelly smiled and quickly showed he’s going to be able to handle the Philadelphia media just fine.
“We’ll go alphabetical,” he said with a grin. “First name? Last name? We’ll flip a coin.”