New Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly decided on a quarterback for his spread offense Monday, as the team agreed to a one-year extension with Michael Vick. Many expected the Eagles to release Vick who was due $15.5 million this year, prior to restructuring his deal. For the Eagles, Vick is a nice fit in Kelly's system; for other teams looking to upgrade at quarterback, an already thin market just became thinner.
This offseason's collection of quarterbacks on the open market includes one big fish -- Joe Flacco -- and several minnows that aren't exactly locks to start, most notably Jason Campbell, Tarvaris Jackson, Matt Leinart, Donovan McNabb, Matt Moore, Brady Quinn, Drew Stanton and Seneca Wallace. The Baltimore Ravens will get the first shot at re-signing Flacco, the Super Bowl-winning signal-caller, but if the two sides can't reach a deal, Flacco should be in for a big payday elsewhere.
If Baltimore and its quarterback decide to part ways, Vick's new deal would likely result in a better deal for Flacco than originally anticipated. Aside from Flacco, Vick would have been another option on the market that a team could sign and start right away. With Vick unavailable, Flacco is the only potentially available quarterback who meets that criteria. Of all the other free-agent QBs, most of them seemed destined for a backup role at best, and none would be considered upgrades over the starters on most teams' rosters.
Aside from Flacco, the free agent who may benefit most from Vick's signing is Jackson. The zone read is quickly becoming a favorite play among NFL offensive coordinators, and fast, mobile quarterbacks like Cam Newton, Robert Griffin III and Russell Wilson are preferred candidates to run the show. Jackson is a seven-year veteran, and he has never been given much of a chance as a starter in the league, but with Vick off the market, he is likely the best option for a team looking to move toward a spread attack. It's unlikely that any franchise will sign Jackson to a long-term deal, but he could get a one-year contract and a chance to prove himself. If he shows that he is capable, a bigger deal could come Jackson's way down the line.
If there is one team thrilled to read the news of Vick's new contract, it's the San Francisco 49ers. Jim Harbaugh has a coach's favorite problem in the NFL: two quality quarterbacks capable of starting right now. The Niners have hitched their wagon to Colin Kaepernick, so that leaves Alex Smith, who completed 69.4 percent of his passes for 1,659, 12 touchdowns and five interceptions before suffering an injury in October. Kaepernick came off the bench for San Francisco, and his outstanding play won him the starting job permanently. Now, the 49ers have a solid starter in Smith and nowhere to put him. That mean's it's time to test the trade waters.
Just as Vick's deal could mean more money for players like Flacco and Jackson, it likely means better compensation for the Niners when they trade Smith. Any franchise hoping to obtain a bona fide starter just became a little more desperate, which means Smith's value just went up.
Of course, one quarterback whose future is uncertain is Nick Foles, who took over for Vick in 2012 after the starter missed seven with a concussion. Foles wasn't bad in his relief role, completing 60.8 percent of his passes for 1,699 yards, six touchdowns and five interceptions in seven games, but he missed the season finale after breaking his hand against the Washington Redskins in Week 15. Foles is entering the second year of his four-year contract with Philadelphia, and since he isn't the best fit for Kelly's up-tempo option scheme, he could land on the trading block in the not-too-distant future. While Foles wouldn't be as valuable as Smith, he would certainly draw a fair amount of interest.
Vick's new contract definitely affects the NFL's quarterback market. Any QB that can start right away should be happy, and any team possessing such a player should be thrilled, too. For the teams trying to get better at the position, anything but quick action will probably mean missing the boat.