(UPDATE: An online sportsbook, Bodog.com, has just established odds on Vick’s next team. Feeling lucky? See below.)
When I caught the tail end of the Falcons’ luncheon for select season ticket holders Wednesday — ostensibly to talk to coach Mike Smith for a column –I mentioned to a few people that at least 18 teams already had indicated they weren’t interested in signing Michael Vick. But all anybody seemed to want to know was: Are any in the NFC South?
Well, here’s some news that even most Falcons fans who don’t want any more local coverage of Vick should be interested in: The Falcons will not have to play Vick twice a season because it seems no NFC South team is interested. (And he may not appear on their 2009 schedule: see below.) That’s something I would’ve never guessed. But here’s the UPDATED breakdown:
♦ NEW ORLEANS:The Saints are out (unofficially team No. 19). It turns out General manager Mickey Loomis actually said last month the team had “no plans to bring Michael Vick to the Saints.” But since everybody seemed to ignore him, he reiterated his lack of interest (sort of) Wednesday, saying: “We have already commented on Vick and have nothing further to add.” This surprises me. New Orleans seemed like a good fit. It’s another indoor/turf team that could help Vick utilize his speed. He’s familiar with the opponents. He could play for a loud and loyal fan base and in a town where the Saints are the show. He could play for a creative offensive coach in Sean Payton, who would find ways to incorporate Vick into the game plan, even with Drew Brees as the starter. He could play for an owner, Tom Benson, who is always desperately looking for ways to generate revenue in a market that just doesn’t provide a lot (which is why he has wanted to move the team).
♦ TAMPA BAY: The Buccaneers also once looked like a plausible destination. But that was before coach Jon Gruden — who goes through quarterbacks like jelly beans and always has been fascinated by Vick’s talents — was fired in January. The Bucs have been quiet since Vick’s suspension was lifted but they indicated earlier they weren’t interested. Chances are, they don’t want to subject new coach Raheem Morris to the circus, even though the team is a mess at quarterback (depth chart: Luke McCown, Bryon Leftwich, Josh Freeman). It also should be noted that Tampa’s offensive coordinator is former Falcons assistant Jeff Jagodzinski, who dealt with the relatively pristine Matt Ryan at Boston College. Morris and Jagodzinski are expected to use a form of the West Coast offense at Tampa, which as we’ve seen is not conducive to Vick’s skill set.
♦ CAROLINA: The Panthers have never officially commented on their interest in Vick. But it would be shocking if they signed him. This franchise already has had its share of tragedy and embarrassment — Rae Carruth conspiring to murder his pregnant girlfriend; Kerry Collins booze-fueled racist ramblings; two cheerleaders caught in public restroom having sex — and doesn’t want the attention that comes with the Vick package. Neither owner Jerry Richardson nor coach John Fox seem the type to want to roll the dice on Vick. A recent Charlotte Observer story noted, “Who knows what teams might be interested in picking up Vick – and some will – but be assured the Panthers aren’t one of them.”
And finally, I just looked at the Falcons’ 2009 schedule. The only two teams on it who haven’t yet made a public declaration about Vick are New England in Week 3 (when Vick might still be under Roger Goodell’s vague suspension) and Chicago in Week 5 (ditto).
So if you were wondering/concerned/anxious about the Falcons vs. Vick scenario in 2009, I think you’re safe.
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An online sportsbook, Bodog, has just issued odds on what team will sign Vick. I’m not sure if I’m required to say that these odds are for entertainment purposes only. But here you go::