The League

J. I. Halsell
Salary Cap Analyst

J. I. Halsell

Salary Cap Analyst for FOOTBALL OUTSIDERS

Vick Cap Analysis

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On the first night of the first full weekend of pre-season football, the games of the evening took a backseat to the signing of quarterback Michael Vick by the Philadelphia Eagles. While the numbers are generally being reported by various outlets as $1.6 million for year one and $5.2 million for the option year of year two, I'll reserve comment on the compensation aspect of the deal until I can get the specific details of the contract, as the numbers reported are very vague and tell one nothing about how those amounts are broken out amongst guaranteed and non-guaranteed money.

Regarding the reported structure of the contract, in an article that I penned for the The Washington Post, I discussed the advantages of signing Vick to a one-year "prove it" contract with a club option for multiple years thereafter. In the end, Vick and the Eagles did indeed agree to this type of structure, but instead of an option for multiple years, Vick's agreement is only for one option year. Without re-hashing the Washington Post article, the spirit of the "prove-it" option structure is that it allows the club to get a one year evaluation of the player, without the commitment of a substantial amount of guaranteed money and contractual years, and more importantly, this structure allows the club to be in complete control should they decide they would like to retain the player after year one. In his one year with the Patriots, Donte Stallworth signed a one year "prove it" contract with an option for multiple years thereafter; the Patriots chose not to exercise the option. Conversely, Saints quarterback Drew Brees also signed a contract with this structure after coming off of off-season shoulder surgery; the Saints opted to exercise Brees' option.

In short, if the player stinks, then with this structure the club doesn't pay the option bonus and the player becomes a free agent, but if the player turns out to be good, then the club pays the negotiated option bonus and retains the services of the player. If the retention of the player equates to multiple years, then this is to the advantage of the club, as they've locked in the future value of the player's contract. To this point, it makes sense that Vick's option is only for one additional year. Assuming Vick proves to be a high-level player, then the agent's responsibility is to get his player to free agency as soon as possible, hence the one option year agreed to by Vick's agent Joel Segal in lieu of multiple years. If Vick is playing at a high level through 2010, he'll be in line for a potentially lucrative deal as he enters 2011. However, if Vick proves otherwise, then the club has protected its interests by not committing a lot to Vick beyond 2009.

All in all, the contract structure agreed to by Vick and the Eagles seems to be mutually beneficial. Given the well documented history of the Eagles' propensity for locking up players for an extended amount of years, it's interesting that Segal was able to obtain an agreement to one option year. One would have thought that the Eagles would have wanted the option to secure Vick's services for a longer period of time after the "prove it" year.

Coincidentally, or maybe not, both Eagles starting quarterback Donovan McNabb's and Vick's contracts expire after 2010, assuming a Vick option. Come 2011, it'll be interesting to see which one of these two end up with a new contract with the Eagles as the starter, or if neither is the 2011 starter or on the team for that matter.

By J. I. Halsell  |  August 15, 2009; 2:12 PM ET  | Category:  Atlanta Falcons , Crime , Michael Vick , NFL , Philadelphia Eagles , Roger Goodell , Tony Dungy Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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