The New York Jets haven’t done much since NFL free agency opened two weeks ago.
But that could change in a big way this weekend as Michael Vick, the top quarterback on the NFL free agent market, is scheduled to visit the team on Friday, according to several media reports.
If the two sides agree that they like each other after Vick’s visit, then it could be a mutually beneficial situation going into next season. The Jets need a veteran quarterback who can still play if necessary and one who is willing to be a mentor to Geno Smith, who helped guide the team to a surprising 8-8 record last year but has not been named the starter for the upcoming season. And Vick, who was replaced by Nick Foles as starter in Philadelphia last season, could find a soft landing spot where he can make some loot and the expectations won’t be sky high for him to be a franchise savior.
Vick worked with Jets offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in Philadelphia for four years. He had the best season of his career with Mornhinweg in Philadelphia in 2010 when he threw for 3,018 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions and rushed for nine touchdowns. So there is a connection to the Jets coaching staff.
And Vick already has a backer in the Jets locker room. After signing his own free agent deal tackle Willie Colon, one of the Jets leaders on offense, was singing Vick’s praises.
"Vick speaks for itself. His resume in itself is amazing," Colon said on a conference call after re-signing with the team. "He is an outstanding athlete and what he can bring to the table in coach Mornhinweg's offense (is impressive). Obviously, they have that rapport, they have that relationship that was established in Philadelphia. It's all arrows up when it comes to that situation. Competition helps everybody. Bottom line, anytime you have two guys competing for the same spot, all it does is heighten the team's effort. It will play out how it is going to play out."
Vick comes with some baggage, having served 18 months at Leavenworth Federal Prison for his role in a dogfighting ring while he was the star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted him in the first round in 2001. However, much of the bad baggage that Vick accumulated before joining the Eagles has been unloaded. He won the team’s Ed Block Courage Award in 2009 and was voted the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year in 2010. He has also devoted much of his time to becoming a spokesman against animal cruelty.
If the Jets sign Vick it will mean the end of Mark Sanchez’s star crossed career with the team. They won’t have a need for two veteran, former starting quarterbacks on the team. The Jets are on the hook for a $2 million roster bonus that they have to pay Sanchez, their first round draft pick in 2009, on March 25.
If they don’t sign Vick, then they will work out something with Sanchez, who missed all of last season after having surgery on his right (throwing shoulder). They may ask him to take a cut in his salary to remain with the team, but more than likely they will just release him because he counts $13.2 million against their salary cap.
However after Vick the pickings are very slim on the free agent market. There is Matt Schaub, who played in Houston last year, but he isn’t interested in being a mentor. He wants to start.
One of the drawbacks to the 34-year-old Vick is that he can’t remain healthy for an entire season. He has only played one full season in his 12-year NFL career and that was in 2006 with the Atlanta Falcons. But if he’s mentoring Smith, the Jets might not need him for a full season.