By Jake Lang, WSOE Sports
When news of Michael Vick and the “Bad Newz Kennels” first broke, pundits, fans, and the NFL alike wondered what would happen to the QB’s football future. After being convicted in August 2007 on felony counts of dog-fighting charges, the former Atlanta Falcons QB was released from federal prison. With his public fall from grace, Michael Vick’s public image has been destroyed, making any NFL comeback much harder.
With Monday’s news of Vick’s partial NFL re-instatement, the answer becomes a bit clearer. The partial re-instatement means that Vick cannot play for the first six weeks of the season, but that he can participate in training camps, drills, practice, etc. As a convicted felon, the CFL can be ruled out as a possibility, as getting a Canadian work visa would be nearly impossible. While teams certainly aren’t jumping out of their seats to give Michael Vick a contract, he is not a man without options. While there has been little to no official word of which teams are interested in Vick’s services, there are a few teams where it might make sense:
Baltimore Ravens: The only team to publicly admit interest in the former Pro Bowl QB, head coach Jim Harbaugh was quoted in an article by the AP: “We’ve had long discussions about Michael Vick and we have a feeling about how he would impact our team and not impact our team.” While this is not a ringing endorsement of a possible Michael Vick signing, they are the first team to publicly mention internal discussions surrounding Vick; making it worthwhile to mention. That said, with Joe Flacco’s surprisingly good performance last season, it’s hard to envision Vick in a Ravens uniform.
Cincinnati Bengals: Though the team from the Queen City does already have another Pro Bowl QB, relying on Carson Palmer to stay healthy is akin to relying on a rainless day in Seattle; it’s not going to happen. Signing Vick would also not be completely out-of-left-field, considering Marvin Lewis’ pension for having highly talented if not character lacking players. Furthermore, with the recent explosion of the Wildcat offense, Vick could become a lethal weapon in various substitution packages.
Jacksonville Jaguars: With the overrated David Garrard as their only legitimate option at QB, it’s hard to imagine that Jack Del Rio hasn’t considered bringing Vick in. The Jaguars’ running game is sure to look different this season with the departure of future Hall Of Fame RB Fred Taylor. The gaping hole left by Taylor will mean that Maurice Jones-Drew will have to shoulder the load. Instead of allowing defenses to zero in on MoJo Drew, Vick would force the distribution of defensive pressure. With the anemic passing offense that the Jaguars employ, signing Vick would provide a much-needed shot in the arm.
Minnesota Vikings: With the Brett Favre saga finally coming to a close, Brad Childress and the Vikings are left with only Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson in the stable (Impressive, I know!) For a team with Super Bowl aspirations, the Vikings need to look at every possible option. The window of opportunity is only getting smaller with key players like Pat Williams aging; he will be 37 in October. While Vick does not assure a return to the playoffs, let alone a spot in the big game, he does provide a skill set with which Adrian Peterson could mesh perfectly.
Oakland Raiders: Would any controversial player speculation be complete with out Al Davis? Despite picking JaMarcus Russell with the #1 overall pick in the 2007 Draft, Vick is a distinct possibility. Davis loves to bring in players like Vick (re: Randy Moss); electrifying, talented, yet combustible. It’s unlikely that Vick ends up in Oakland, but it should not be left out for the simple reason that Al Davis is unpredictable.
Pittsburgh Steelers: One of the few franchises that wouldn’t have issues selling Vick to their extremely rabid and loyal fan base, the Pittsburgh Steelers could emerge as the team who takes a chance on the troubled QB. Though the Steelers already have the future Hall Of Fame QB Ben Roethlisberger, the team has a history of using athletic QBs as essential parts of their offense. Between Kordell Stewart as their starting QB, former QBs Hines Ward and Antwaan Randle-El at WR, Vick provides another weapon. Between the aforementioned Wildcat offense, the trademark use of trick plays; the Steelers could be the perfect fit. Additionally, the strong veteran leadership of the players and coaches could be enough to keep Vick in-check. It is also worth mentioning that Vick’s mentor, and future Hall Of Fame head coach, Tony Dungy, has come out in defense of Vick. A former player with the Steelers, Dungy has deep ties with the organization and could be the bridge between the two.
This list of teams is not definitive by any means; it is purely speculation. With the NFL options mapped out and the CFL not being an option, the three-time Pro Bowl QB would still have one more option:
Orlando Tuskers: The who?! The Orlando Tuskers are one of four teams slated to kickoff this fall with the inaugural season of the United Football League. As per UFL rules, the Orlando franchise is aligned with the NFC/AFC South divisions. This means that each team retains any rights to players from their aligned divisions if they defect from the NFL. While the level of competition would be considerably lower, it would provide a stepping-stone to the NFL, as Vick would have a chance to once again prove his abilities. The head coach, former New Orleans Saints head coach Jim Haslett, is familiar with athletic and mobile QBs (re: Aaron Brooks), so the marriage could make sense. Moreover, dazzling fans in the UFL would make a NFL return much easier to sell as, the public often ignores star player’s problems as long as they still perform.