Vick arrived in Philadelphia Tuesday morning and remained there Wednesday evening. The Eagles will hold a news conference on Friday morning to announce his signing. The first year of the deal is for $1.6 million with an option for the second year at $5.2 million, sources told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen. Vick can also earn an additional $3 million in incentives over the two years of the contract, sources told ESPN.com’s Len Pasquarelli.
Vick was the No. 1 draft pick in 2001 by the Atlanta Falcons and once the highest-paid player in football. But he has not played since 2006 when his career came tumbling down. He was convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting operation, sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
But after serving his time and being released from home confinement July 20, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally lifted Vick’s suspension, allowing him to sign with a team.
Vick can immediately take part in preseason practices, workouts and meetings and can play in the final two preseason games. Once the season begins, Vick may participate in all team activities except games, and Goodell said he would consider Vick for full reinstatement by Week 6 (Oct. 18-19) at the latest.
“I’m a believer that as long as people go through the right process, they deserve a second chance,” Eagles coach Andy Reid said. “He’s got great people on his side; there isn’t a finer person than Tony Dungy. He’s proven he’s on the right track.”
The Eagles went to the playoffs last season under quarterback Donovan McNabb, and are still looking for their elusive first Super Bowl win.
McNabb has led the Eagles to five NFC championship games and one Super Bowl appearance in the last eight years, and was rewarded with a $5.3 million raise in the offseason. The Eagles tore up his old contract with two years remaining, and gave him a new deal worth $24.5 million over the next two seasons.
The team is a surprise landing point for Vick. It was among 26 clubs that said there was no interest in Vick, but that may have changed when backup Kevin Kolb strained a knee ligament earlier this week. Kolb’s injury isn’t serious and he’s expected to return next week. The Eagles also have veteran A.J. Feeley.
“There won’t be a quarterback controversy,” Reid said. “We have to make sure he gets back in football shape. He comes into a good, stable unit here. Donovan and Michael are very close.”
Reid made sure he spoke with McNabb before signing Vick.
“I pretty much lobbied to get him here,” McNabb said. “I believe in second chances and what better place to get a second chance than here with this group of guys. … He’s no threat to me, not for Kolb. We had the opportunity to add another weapon to our offense.”
Vick could be used in a variation of the Wildcat offense that the Miami Dolphins made popular last season. He’s also familiar with the West Coast offense, though Atlanta ran a different version than the one Philadelphia uses.
“He’s an unbelievable athlete, both running the ball and throwing it,” Reid said. “I’ll think of something for him.”
Team owner Joe Banner said Vick’s deal was basically complete two days ago, but that the team met with him before it was signed, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. He said the team’s due diligence included discussions with commissioner Roger Goodell’s office, with Dungy, who is serving as Vick’s personal adviser, and the National Humane Society.
“I just hope the people will understand that we did our research,” Banner said, the newspaper reported.
“It was very tough initially, but everybody we talked to said the same thing, that he was remorseful and that he had gone through an incredible transformation, that he was basically good at heart,” Banner said, according to the Daily News. “We heard this over and over again from people who felt he deserved a second chance.”
When news of Vick’s signing circulated in the press box during the first half of the Eagles’ preseason opener against New England, even the team’s public relations staff seemed surprised.
The stadium was buzzing by halftime as word spread. Fans standing on the concourse were in disbelief. One fan wondered how quickly he’d be able to buy a Vick jersey. Another asked if this was a joke.
“We got quite a few calls from people who were upset. But there was a fairly significant, large number, in favor. I’d say there was a smaller number opposed,” banner said, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. “We’ve been hearing anecdotes of people in sports bars who were enthusiastic about it. There were some chants for Vick here at the game.”
In a “60 Minutes” interview set to air Sunday, Vick accepted blame for not stopping the illegal dogfighting operation he bankrolled.
Vick said he feels “some tremendous hurt behind what happened.”
He said he should have taken “the initiative to stop it all … I didn’t.”
Asked if he was more concerned about his playing career or the dogs he hurt, Vick replied, “Football don’t even matter.”
The animal rights group, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, wasted no time reminding people exactly what Vick had done.
“PETA and millions of decent football fans around the world are disappointed that the Eagles decided to sign a guy who hung dogs from trees. He electrocuted them with jumper cables and held them under water,” PETA spokesman Dan Shannon told The Associated Press.
“You have to wonder what sort of message this sends to young fans who care about animals and don’t want them to be harmed.”
Reid believes most Eagles fans will accept Vick.
“This is America. We do make mistakes,” Reid said. “This situation is a chance to prove he’s doing the right things. He’s been proactive speaking across the country.”
Vick filed for bankruptcy protection last July, listing assets of about $16 million and debts of more than $20 million.
Vick pleaded guilty after his three co-defendants had already done so. They told of how Vick participated in the killing of dogs that didn’t perform well in test fights by shooting, hanging, drowning or slamming them to the ground.
Vick’s appearances at federal court in Richmond, Va., prompted large groups of protesters to gather outside. Many were with PETA and held signs depicting photographs of pit bulls ravaged in dogfights.
Still, there were supporters who wore his No. 7 jersey.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Vick rushed for 1,039 yards in 2006, the most by a quarterback in a single season in NFL history. His 8.45 yards a carry average that season is also an NFL record. Vick appeared in 74 regular season games (67 starts) from 2001-06, completing 930 of 1,730 passes for 11,505 yards and 71 touchdowns. He rushed for 3,859 yards and 21 touchdowns. He is 2-2 as a starter in the playoffs with both losses coming against the Eagles.
The Eagles travel to meet Vick’s former team, the Falcons, in Week 13 on Dec. 6.
Senior NFL anlyst Chris Mortensen, ESPN reporter Sal Paolantonio, ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli and The Associated Press contributed to this report.