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Posted: Friday August 14, 2009 12:07PM; Updated: Friday August 14, 2009 1:47PM
Ross Tucker Ross Tucker >
INSIDE THE NFL

Eagles make big mistake with Vick

Story Highlights

Signing Michael Vick may only further alienate Donovan McNabb

Eagles fans are fickle and will call for Vick to start at first opportunity

Mailbag questions on veteran leadership, bye weeks, much more

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Michael Vick answered questions from the media at a Friday morning press conference.
AP
Ross Tucker's Mailbag
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Is it possible that the best case scenario for the Eagles with their signing of Michael Vick is also the worst case scenario?

If things work out and Vick is a productive member of the team, making big plays out of some semblance of a "Wildcat" package, Eagles fans will call for him to get more and more playing time. That, of course, would mean less time for Donovan McNabb, which would only serve to alienate the true franchise quarterback in Philadelphia.

Remember when Patriots owner Robert Kraft said that New England wasn't interested in Vick because they had, in his opinion, the best player in the world in Tom Brady and why would he ever want to take Brady off the field? Made sense to me. Probably made sense to McNabb as well, which is why no matter what he says publicly, I think this transaction creates an awkward situation for McNabb, and that's the last thing the team should be doing at this juncture with a championship caliber roster.

To truly understand why this creates an uncomfortable situation for McNabb, you have to understand how he is viewed by the Philadelphia fan base and the local media. As I wrote earlier this offseason, McNabb is chronically underappreciated in Philadelphia, despite all of the postseason victories he has brought to the City of Brotherly Love. I know he hasn't won a Super Bowl title, but neither did Dan Marino and he was pretty darn good. McNabb remains a somewhat polarizing figure in Philly. His status as the main man was tenuous as recently as last season, when he was benched in favor of Kevin Kolb for the second half of a game against the Baltimore Ravens.

The Eagles, of course, gave McNabb substantial additional compensation and financial guarantees this offseason, even though they didn't add any additional years to his contract in the form of an extension. That is extremely rare, and McNabb told me recently that the impetus of the move was to eliminate any doubt about who the quarterback is in Philadelphia. Doesn't this signing of Vick change that?

Fans don't care about contract implications or public statements. They just want to see winning football, and unless McNabb plays virtually error-free ball, the Vick option will just be too much of a temptation for the rabid Eagles fans, some of whom appear to be almost bored at this point by the McNabb era.

I understand the thinking that this is really just a one-year deal, with possibly an offseason trade in mind, and that the Eagles are a strong organization that can withstand the public relations bullets. Maybe the idea is that Vick doesn't even play very much this year and the Eagles are just a one-year stop to rehabilitate his image, hone his craft and assimilate him back into a professional football environment. I can live with that, but can Eagles fans? If McNabb is anything less than perfect? I doubt it.

On to your e-mails ...

How well do you think it works to bring in players who are past their prime but have a lot of football smarts and leadership ability? I'm thinking of Derrick Brooks and Mike Vrabel here. It seems odd to me that teams think they can import players to provide instant leadership, but maybe that really does work.
--Richard Hallquist, Durham, N.C.

I've always said that you can't really buy leadership because it takes time for any new player to assimilate himself into a new team's locker room. What you can bring in, however, is a role model and a veteran example of what to do and how to conduct yourself as a true professional. Especially if, like in Vrabel's case in Kansas City, he has a familiarity with the general manager. The other Chiefs can look at Vrabel as the type of guy that does well in a Scott Pioli-led organizational environment.

Seems like you can pre-package this story about preseason injuries every year, just change the players. Why in the world would the league consider adding more games?
--Jamie, Montreal

Money. The owners and the players are currently unable to come to an agreement on a new CBA because they are haggling over how to divvy up the revenue that is coming in. One way to reach an accord is to find a way to increase that revenue, which is what adding more games would do. Yes, there will be more injuries and the product could eventually get watered down, but there are always more players out there ready to step onto an NFL roster and put on those uniforms.

When a player has a season-ending injury, how is he compensated for the rest of the year? Is there a difference between an injury in the preseason and one in the regular season, since, even though it is harsh to say it, many of the 80 guys in camp will be cut anyway.
--Steve, Pacifica, Calif.

If a player is out for the year he will most likely be placed on injured reserve because there is no value for the team to negotiate any type of injury settlement and lose the player's rights at that point. Once placed on IR, that player is entitled to receive every dime of his paragraph 5 salary for that season, unless he has signed a split contract. A split contract is signed by all of the undrafted rookies and even some older veterans who agree to a minimum-salary contract. The split contact enables the team to pay a fraction of the salary, which typically is slightly less than 50% of what the player would have earned on the active roster, if he got hurt and landed on injured reserve.

We know it takes a couple of years for receivers to understand the defenses being thrown at him. With that in mind, Michael Crabtree sitting out the year doesn't make any sense. In fact, I think he would end up making less money. Are his agents doing him any justice?
--Jason, Phoenix

My guess is that sitting out the year is a veiled threat, just a negotiating ploy on the part of Crabtree's representatives. Reportedly, he'll sign in September, which probably hurts the 49ers more than it hurts Crabtree. At the end of the day, he'll probably sign a five-year deal and then it doesn't really matter how well he plays or how productive he is until his fourth year, when the discussions will begin on a second contract.

Why doesn't the NFL do a better job spacing out its bye weeks? The Eagles have a bye in Week 4 while the archrival Giants have their bye in Week 10. I would think a late-season bye is much more valuable than one after three games. Do you think it's an unfair advantage for the teams that have late-season byes?
--Marty Feeny, Laguna Niguel, Calif.

I guess it is a small advantage to have a bye week later in the season, but to some extent that is all circumstantial based upon the injury situation of that particular team. If a team gets a lot of injuries early in the season, it probably helps if the bye week is early, so those players miss one fewer game. In the end, the competitive advantage is so minute that it isn't really worth fretting over. The Ravens basically lost their bye week last season after the hurricane hit Houston and still made it to the AFC Championship Game.

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