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Tags Keep Vital Eagles Here For 2011

Nobody knows what the future holds for the NFL and the Collective Bargaining Agreement, so the Eagles eliminated any doubt about Michael Vick's immediate future and secured the services of Pro Bowl placekicker David Akers with a smart use of the league's tagging system on Tuesday.

Vick was given the franchise tag, meaning he receives the average of the five highest-paid quarterbacks in the league based on contract during the 2010 season, a number estimated to be in the range of $20 million for this season. It is, of course, a huge raise for Vick, and while it does not include a long-term contract and a huge signing bonus, it is a well-deserved bump for Vick and it is an important sense of security for the Eagles.

They have their starting quarterback in place for the season ahead. There is no doubt about that right now. There is no debating who plays quarterback, and no sense of theatre or media debate. Vick is the guy, and he is going to be paid as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL in the meantime.

How the Eagles treat Vick as far as the long-range picture remains a question mark, one that will be answered down the line. And what happens with Kevin Kolb, of course, is a hot topic and a story that needs to be written. There are so many factors to consider, notably what kind of player movement system there will be in the months ahead.

But there is a sense of comfort knowing that Vick is here, safe and sound, locked in -- after he signs the contract, of course -- and the Eagles can move on to other projects knowing they have one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL on their sideline.

Akers' situation is a bit more complicated with the transition tag. Under the current system, the transition player's club must offer a minimum of the average of the top 10 salaries of last season at the player's position or 120 percent of the player's previous year's salary, whichever is greater. In doing so, the team retains a first-refusal right to match within seven days an offer sheet given to the player by another club after his contract expires.

If the team matches the offer, it retains the player. If it does not match, it receives no compensation.

Of course, this is just a hedge for the Eagles. The NFLPA is challenging the validity of the franchise and transition tags, but the Eagles have the right to protect both Vick and Akers, pending the next CBA.

It is smart business to use the franchise tag on Vick and the transition tag on Akers. There is more to come here, naturally. The Eagles would like to sign both players for multiple seasons. Both are Pro Bowl standouts. Both figure into the present and the future here.

Now, fortunately, there is no suspense. And that's a good thing with the league facing such an unknown next several months.

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