Michael Vick’s Return to Eagles Offers Chip Kelly Reliable Stopgap on Quest for Long-Term Quarterback

michael vickMichael Vick won’t be taking the express train out of Philadelphia after all, at least not just yet.

Vick and the Eagles agreed on a restructured contract on Monday, keeping the quarterback in Philly for one more season and allowing Chip Kelly to evaluate his effectiveness running a new offensive system. But could Vick be the long-term answer? That is the $10 million — Vick’s incentive-laden salary for 2013 — question.

Kelly answered that question with some pretty firm support for the dual-threat quarterback on Monday.

“Michael will be back next season with us,” Kelly said during his news conference on Monday. “I want Michael to be a part of this team.”

Well, Kelly is getting just as he wished. Now, he’ll have wait and find out which version of Vick that is.

Last season was not the finest of Vick’s NFL career. Injuries, including a lingering concussion, forced him to miss six games and ball security became a recurring issue as he turned the ball over 15 times in 10 games. But with a healthy offensive line and a more creative offensive system in place, Vick could very well thrive once again in Philly.

His mobility has always been Vick’s biggest asset and, in Kelly’s read-option scheme, that speed will be even more important. The running combination of Vick and LeSean McCoy proved deadly in both 2010 and 2011, and Kelly is banking that they’ll enjoy similar results this season. But the question mark is still Vick’s left arm.

In 10 NFL seasons, Vick has never completed more than 62 percent of his passes, which he did during his first season as the Eagles starter. In fact, that 2010 season was the only time in his career that he ever completed better than 60 percent. In a system so focused on run-action plays and short-to-intermediate passing routes, though, Vick has the ability to excel, of which Kelly is well aware.

While Vick retains some stability and possibly his starting job with the Eagles, Kelly is the ultimate beneficiary from this restructuring. The deal is full of incentives, meaning that Vick is by no means guaranteed the starting job and could be a training camp casualty if he continues to underachieve. As for Kelly, he’s able to get a capable quarterback to run his system for now with the incentive of extending it, while also maintaining the flexibility to find the right player if needed.

This deal is a win-win for both sides, but the Eagles are the ones in the driver’s seat. Vick will need to prove his worth in order to extend his tenure with the Eagles, which could make for a very bright future in Philadelphia. But if he’s unsuccessful, Kelly has the luxury of merely pulling the plug and finding a reliable starter elsewhere — maybe even in second-year quarterback Nick Foles.

Like it or not, Vick is back in green. Much could change before the start of next season but, for now at least, Kelly has found his man — and really, who would be better?

Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.