Happy Monday morning, Rumblers. By now, I'm sure most of you are aware that former Indianapolis head coach Tony Dungy, on last night's telecast of Football Night in America on NBC, named the Buffalo Bills as a potential landing spot for Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should the Eagles see fit to move him next off-season. First, the quote, in its entirety, courtesy Mike Florio at ProFootballTalk.com:
"If they want him back, he has to stay there. If they don't, there are some teams looking for quarterbacks - Cleveland, St. Louis and Washington. But I think a dark horse is Buffalo... They talked originally. There was some communication there. I think that could be a good spot."
Obviously, "they" are the Eagles, and all forms of the word "he" is referring to Vick. Before y'all get into a big row in the comments section - which, I realize, is inevitable, given that Michael Vick is the topic of conversation here - there are a few important points to make.
"They talked originally." This isn't completely irrelevant, because the implication that Dungy brings to the table - that Buffalo talked about bringing Vick into the fold as recently as this past August, when Philadelphia signed him to a two-year deal - is interesting in and of itself. Bills COO/GM Russ Brandon denied any such talks taking place when rumors swirled of exactly that notion during training camp, but if Dungy's words are true, Brandon obviously hid it from the press. Which isn't surprising, of course, but it is interesting, because contradictions are always interesting.
Dick Jauron is a key figure here as well. It might end up being his ultimate downfall, but Jauron has a lot of say when it comes to personnel decisions. (Chalk that up to not really having a GM.) Jauron drafted Edwards, and while he isn't endlessly loyal to him like regimes are loyal to first-round picks at quarterback, the most logical source of overall organizational faith in Edwards as the starting quarterback is Jauron. He brought him into the league. He lobbied to sign Ryan Fitzpatrick as the backup so as to solidify Edwards as the sure-fire starter. He installed a no-huddle to try to play to Edwards' strengths.
If there were talks about Vick earlier this season - and again, we only have Dungy's speculation to go on there, so it might not be true - the least likely person doing that lobbying, in my opinion, was Jauron. That could mean that one of his coaches wanted Vick (and for the record, Turk Schonert was still with the team at the time), or it could mean that a member of VP of Pro Personnel John Guy's staff wanted Vick, or it could mean that Brandon himself wanted him. Either way, it doesn't matter, because if Buffalo's catastrophe of a front office structure ensures one thing, it's that opinions about certain players don't die because of a regime change, because everyone has a little input. Even if an entirely new coaching staff comes to town, Buffalo's supposed interest in Vick could survive that change. That's an important factor to consider.
"Dark horse." That's a key phrase to point out. Dungy phrased it exactly that way, and in general use, "dark horse" implies a sleeper entity, and not a front-runner. The fact that Dungy used that phrase could mean either two things: he reached into the wrong part of his brain and picked the wrong phrase, or he was attempting to convey his interest in Buffalo's being a potential landing spot for Vick while maintaining that they aren't, in fact, anything more than an equally-speculative-as-those-other-teams contender for his services. That, too, is important - if the Eagles do decide to move Vick (more on that in a minute), Dungy's opinion on where Vick should play is completely irrelevant, because Vick would go to the highest bidder. That is, if there's a trade market for Vick.
Can Philly trade Vick? Florio points it out well enough in his article, so we'll just use his point to further our discussion:
The problem Vick now faces is that his market value can only be sinking. Will any team be interested in him as a potential starter? Vick's speed looks significantly diminished and he won't get a chance to show off any passing skills in Philadelphia. Ultimately, Vick's sinking stock could make it a lot tougher for the Eagles to finding a trading partner in the offseason.
This, too, is an extremely important point. Philadelphia has three NFL-caliber quarterbacks, but ultimately, only two of them might be worth trading for - Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb. Considering the fact that Vick has seen little field opportunity this season - and that's not likely to change - Vick could be looking to change teams next off-season while still carrying the stigma of a rusty, highly unproven commodity. Any NFL team willing to trade for that, no matter the talent of the individual in question, is flat-out dumb.
Buffalo should not trade for Vick. Draft picks of any round are valuable commodities. Yes, they might reach a desperate point in their likely search for a quarterback next off-season, but that doesn't mean they need to be unintelligent about possibly making a move for Vick. As Florio notes, the market isn't likely to be high. If Buffalo is desperate, nothing more than a fifth-round pick should suffice. Otherwise, it's highway robbery on Philly's part, and the Bills still have questions at quarterback regardless.
Can Vick even play? That's the big question, and for us, it's really the only question worth considering right now, because we have nothing to do with acquiring him. As Florio noted above, Vick's not the dominant athlete he was pre-prison. In six games in Philadelphia, Vick has completed 2 of 6 passes for 6 yards, and he's got 12 carries for 27 yards. His quarterback skills were questionable before his hiatus from football - no one is drooling over his 53.7% career completion percentage or his career 6.6 yards-per-attempt average - but Atlanta was 38-28-1 with Vick as their quarterback. That's a record most Bills fans would accept at this point, but that record is likely to dwindle if Vick's athletic prowess is diminished.
Forget the "Dungy to Buffalo" argument. Many will speculate that Vick coming to Buffalo could mean Dungy follows him. Many will continue to speculate that even after I say, right here, right now, that that is extremely unlikely. Dungy will be 55 next October, and while that's still almost exactly five years younger than Jauron (Jauron: 10/7/50; Dungy: 10/6/55), Dungy has reached the top of his profession. He's won a championship. He has nothing left to prove. If he still has the itch to coach, Buffalo might obviously be an option, but Ralph Wilson has never paid top dollar for a coach, and Dungy might not be comfortable inserting himself into a mess of a front office with an aging owner and an organization that might not stay in Buffalo. If he does get that itch, there are far more appealing options, and Vick is just as likely to end up in one of those locations as he is in Buffalo.
In the end, this is all just a bunch of speculation about a guy who may or may not be able to play from a coach who seems to be asserting more opinion than fact. Still, it's certainly interesting to discuss. The poll and the comments section are all yours.