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Vick Gets What He Deserves

Aug 30, 2011, 12:59 PM EDT

An in-depth analysis of why Michael Vick received his six-year contract worth $100 million, and why a deal of that magnitude was inevitable.

Six years, $100 million, $36 guaranteed.

HUGE.

Fair.

There are no shortage of people out there today to take their shot at Michael Vick’s brand new mega-deal, “too much” and “too long” being the general themes. “Big risks” and “old temptations” aside, the contract is actually just right.

The concerns, for the most part, are valid. Vick the player and Vick the person are both something of an enigma. We don’t know if he can play under control enough to stay healthy and lead the Eagles to a championship, and we can only speculate what goes on in the mind of one of the most polarizing celebrities on earth.

There is one easy truth to understand though, and that is Vick is Philadelphia’s franchise quarterback. Whether it’s money, or years, or the lack of an escape plan you are having trouble swallowing, realize that a deal of this magnitude was inevitable from the moment they chose Vick over Kevin Kolb.

Money
There is positively no point debating the money. Vick deserves every penny he got, including the hefty guarantee.

According to Roob’s breakdown, the yearly average makes Vick the third highest highest paid quarterback in the NFL, behind Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. Sounds about right for the runner-up for league MVP. It’s also roughly what he would have earned in 2011 under the franchise tag.

More to the point, this is the way business goes in professional sports. As long as revenues continue rising, so too will the money paid out. The next guy is going to get more cash, and a bigger guarantee, then the next guy, and so on until the bubble bursts.

And when you weigh in the bargain price the Eagles had Vick at last season–an absolute steal at $5 million–he was in line for a payday that reflected how he thoroughly outperformed his old contract.

Is it ideal? Of course not, but I doubt the Colts think what they are paying Peyton is ideal either.

[See Also: How Much of Vick's Cash Will He Actually Get to Keep?]

Years
What everybody seems to be hung up on are the six years, which frankly surprises me. Did the world collectively forget the duration of NFL contracts are not guaranteed?

Not unlike the vast sums of money they are paying him, the Eagles were not going to get away with another short term contract. Vick has an agent and plenty of leverage. Just because there are obvious pitfalls at his age, and especially due to his style of play, does not mean he was going to settle for anything less than the standard for a franchise quarterback.

If that were the case, everybody in the NFL would be playing on one-year deals, since any of their careers could be over today.

Plus, we have yet to see how the contract is structured. Considering the way the Eagles ordinarily do business, it would be fair to assume they have some protection on the back end. They have been expert at the negotiation table for over a decade, and always wind up owning the upper hand in the final years of virtually every deal.

There is one risk though, and it has little to do with Vick being 31, or how injury prone he is. The real issue is Vick still has not proven he is the guy that can finally push this franchise over the top. There are faults in his game. If he can correct them, he could be unstoppable. If he never takes the next step, it could be a long time before Philly has a legitimate Super Bowl contender.

Conduct
I feel like this is barely worth touching on, but it is out there, so we will address it.

People act as though Vick might turn around and resume slaughtering dogs now that he is set. I find that line of thinking quite bizarre.

I don’t know Mike Vick. I don’t pretend to know whether his efforts to change are sincere or not. I am also aware his troubled past goes beyond the dog fighting operation. At that stage of his life, he had surrounded himself with many characters of ill repute, and the result was scandal seemed to follow Vick wherever he went.

It was only last summer when an incident ended with a shooting at his birthday party.

My opinion is that he would have to be pretty stupid to get involved in the type of situation that would jeopardize his entire career, the type that would be handled under a “conduct clause.” It makes zero sense. You may not like or trust the guy, but after everything he has been through… really?

Value
Here is the point I think everybody is missing: Michael Vick isn’t just a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles–he is a brand.

When Vick joined the team in August of ’09, fans were buying number seven merchandise the very next day. When he became the starting quarterback last September, legions of Vick backers embraced rooting for the Birds. Today, you can hardly tune in to ESPN without seeing Vick’s image plastered on your computer monitor or television set.

Few players in professional sports are more instantly recognizable; even fewer, if any, are more popular. He gives the Eagles franchise unprecedented reach and visibility on a national scale, precisely the sort every organization desperately craves.

Translation: $$$.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if Vick is overpaid (he isn’t) or if his contract is too long (it’s not). The simple fact is his presence gives the organization the ability to print money, and while I don’t agree with the notion that money is the only thing Jeffrey Lurie really cares about, it certainly does not hurt.