By Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer
Friday, April 3rd, 2009 at 8:59 am in Oakland Raiders.
Michael Vick is saying the right things and working his way back to the NFL.
Unless you’re comfortable with the idea of Bruce Gradkowski and Andrew Walter battling it out on the depth chart behind JaMarcus Russell, the Raiders should pursue Vick under the following conditions:
1: That Vick agrees to a one- or two-year contract at a salary near the NFL minimum.
2: That Vick understands he has no chance to be the starting quarterback in 2009 unless Russell is injured.
3: That Vick is agreeable to being used creatively on offense in any way the offensive braintrust of Tom Cable, Ted Tollner and Paul Hackett sees fit.
Having lost two years of his career to dogfighting, and the PETA-driven public outcry which will greet Vick’s return, it’s difficult to imagine an NFL team considering him as a starter.
Unless Vick is considering a job in construction _ maybe he can help build the new 49ers stadium in Santa Clara _ his best bet in getting playing time right away is in the new United Football League.
If he is going to play in the NFL, the Raiders would be an appealing option for a year or two to get his career back on track. Chances are good Cable has already thought of the creative possibilities, having been the line coach with Atlanta when Vick was there.
It’s worth noting that former Falcons such as DeAngelo Hall, Ashley Lelie and Justin Griffith all swore by Vick in terms of being a good teammate.
Vick is going to need to join a team which is willing to withstand the criticism of bringing him aboard. Few teams shield their players from the media better than Oakland, and owner Al Davis has a track record of giving second chances.
As sick and disgusting as Vick’s dogfighting enterprise was, he has served 23 months in prison. If Leonard Little can play in the NFL and Pacman Jones can get repeated chances, it’s hard to make a case for keeping out Vick.
Coming to the Raiders would benefit Vick by uniting him with Hackett, considered an excellent teacher of quarterback fundamentals. Any hope Vick has of becoming a more conventional quarterback as he enters his 30s and loses some of his blinding speed rests with improving his passing skill and ability to execute an offense.
While polishing those abilities, Vick, assuming he is as blindingly fast and stunningly athletic as ever, could become a potent part-time weapon. He could line up as a Wildcat quarterback in place of Russell, play in the same backfield with Russell in trick spread formations, or in myriad offensive sets that would include the likes of Darren McFadden, Michael Bush and Johnnie Lee Higgins.
Vick would create a run-pass threat that would have to be accounted for defensively. You’ve got Russell taking the snap, with Vick a few steps to his right and McFadden close by or in the slot, with Higgins split wide.
In the event that Russell were to be injured, Vick would be a potentially explosive option as a backup quarterback. If he’s not far enough along in that regard after missing two years, then either Walter, Gradkowski or a player yet to be added to the roster could step in, with Vick retaining his roles in other areas.
If Vick is of a mind to come in and compete for a job as a starter instantly and is looking for big money, Oakland is not the place for him.
But if Vick is looking for a way to get back in the game, shake off the rust and do it with an organization that will accept him for who he is, there is no better landing spot.
McFadden named in civil suit
Raiders running back Darren McFadden was added to a civil lawsuit regarding an incident at piano bar which occurred before he was drafted by the organization, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.