This is Chip Kelly's team, and he has a vision for what he wants the Eagles to become. The vision revolves around the idea of competition at every position, and keeping Michael Vick allows the Eagles to have a head start prior to free agency and the NFL draft.
The signing raises many questions, of course, and Kelly will answer them at his 1:30 p.m. press conference. Is Vick the guaranteed starter for 2013? What are the terms of the contract, which is reportedly a three-year deal? What kind of financial commitment did the Eagles make to Vick? What does this deal mean for what the Eagles think about Nick Foles, the second-year man who had some strong moments in his rookie season? Does this mean that the job comes down to Vick or Foles and that the Eagles won't add a quarterback in free agency or the draft or even in a trade?
Let me try to answer, if I can. I don't think there are any guarantees for Vick, or for any player on this roster. The dollar figures of Vick's deal haven't been announced, but it obviously has to be palatable enough for Vick to agree, and it has to work favorably for the Eagles, who were reportedly set to hang $15.5 million on Vick against the salary cap prior to this contract.
As for Foles, the Eagles are going to have him compete for playing time, just as they are with Vick. And I can guarantee you – for what it's worth – that the Eagles will keep their eyes open for quarterbacks throughout the next few months. They will not pass on a player they think can upgrade the quarterback position, or any position for that matter.
Kelly obviously sees in Vick the strengths that can work in the type of scheme that Kelly wants to employ. If you want to read that this is a hint of how Kelly's X's and O's will look, so be it. Vick is a quick-footed quarterback with a strong arm and the threat of a run option is clearly there when he's on the field. If the Eagles are going to use more of a read/option scheme, Vick fits the quarterback profile more than Foles and more than just about any quarterback who might be available to the Eagles throughout the offseason.
Understand that Vick must make better decisions and exhibit better ball security than he has the last two seasons. He turned the ball over 33 times in the 2011 and 2012 seasons, during which he missed nine games due to injuries.
Is this a shocking move? Does it matter? Kelly isn't going to strip away talent until he has something better in place, so why not give Vick a look and see how he translates into this scheme? Maybe with an offense that better fits his strengths, and an offensive line that should be much improved, and a play-calling system that takes advantage of the talent at the running back position – boy, do I think the Eagles are going to run the football – Vick can be the quarterback to make this offense go.
And then again, maybe not. This is, as I think Kelly sees things, an open competition. If Foles comes in and plays great football, Kelly is going to give Foles the nod. And if the Eagles add someone in the draft, or have a chance to upgrade in a trade or in free agency, they're going to make that move.
Having Vick back ensures that Kelly is going to give him a fair and objective look. Vick wants to be an Eagle, wants to stay in Philadelphia, and he's going to work hard to get a grasp on the scheme. To date, as per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, Kelly and Vick have been limited to a "Hello, how are you?" conversation. They can't get into X's and O's. They can't get into a profile of what Vick's role might be. No doubt Vick has watched Kelly's offense at Oregon and become excited at the possibilities. Who wouldn't?
From a financial standpoint, and this is just guessing, the Eagles have again improved their salary-cap position. Once we know the real numbers or the terms of the contract, we'll understand the ramifications as they relate to the salary cap. Safe to say, the Eagles can be players in free agency if they choose to be. They've created some flexibility.
Vick has to grasp a new system and demonstrate to Kelly that he can be a trustworthy steward of the offense and work in an up-tempo scheme and have a firm hold on the mental and physical demands. The Eagles took a situation -- Vick had a contract -- and worked a new deal that is a win-win for both sides. Vick understands the position he is in: Nothing will be handed to him. He is here to compete.
At the same time, the Eagles owe it to themselves to keep their eyes peeled. They want competition at every position and they've certainly got it at quarterback, and they may not yet be finished at the position.
Vick is back for more. This is Michael Vick: a veteran quarterback in a new scheme playing for a new coach with nothing guaranteed except the shot to see if he can thrive in a system that needs the quarterback to make good decisions, to play fast, to protect the football and to get the ball in the hands of an explosive, dynamic group of playmakers around him.