Originally Published: September 6, 2011 6:29 p.m.
Talk about a comeback. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick should receive the NFL's Comeback Award for 2011 even if he doesn't take a single snap.
Last week, the Eagles announced they had signed Vick to a 6-year, $100 million contract. That marks the second time in Vick's career he has been the recipient of the largest contract in the league. The Atlanta Falcons gave Vick a 10-year, $130 million contract in 2005.
While the numbers seem mindboggling, you should know that unlike other professional sports, NFL contracts are not fully guaranteed. A $100 million contract in Major League Baseball, for example, means just what it suggests: The player will receive that sum regardless of his future production. But the NFL is the only one of the big four professional sports where only a portion of a player's contract is guaranteed.
In Vick's case, $40 million is guaranteed. Not bad, but not the $100 million the media and public fixate on.
On the other hand, this is the same Michael Vick who four years ago was convicted of committing unspeakable atrocities on dogs and spent 18 months in a federal penitentiary for his crimes.
In addition to losing his freedom, Vick also forfeited the remainder of his contract with the Falcons. After he was released from prison, Vick signed a two-year deal with the Eagles that paid him $1.6 million in 2009 and $5 million in 2010.
After last season, Vick became an unrestricted free agent. To prevent him from signing with another team, the Eagles slapped Vick with the franchise tag, which required them to pay Vick the average of the top five salaries at his position. In March, Vick signed a one-year contract that would have paid him $16.2 million in 2011. That contract was voided when Vick and the Eagles agreed to a long term deal. However, this being the NFL, two other quarterbacks, the Colts' Peyton Manning and the Patriots' Tom Brady, have more guaranteed money in their contracts than Vick and both of them have a higher average salary.
During Vick's first season with the Eagles, he was essentially their third string signal caller. But last year, after taking over for the injured Kevin Kolb he led the Eagles to an 8-3 record, made the Pro Bowl for the fourth time in his career, and was named the Comeback Player of the Year by the Associated Press, Sporting News, and Pro Football Weekly.
Based on what appears to be a relatively small sample size, the Eagles obviously see
Vick as their quarterback of the present and future.
Vick's redemption, at least on the field, may be complete. But while the contract numbers are huge, even if Vick stays healthy and earns the entire $100 million he won't get to pocket it all. In addition to his legal woes, Vick filed for bankruptcy. Shortly after his release from prison he entered into an agreement with the bankruptcy court which earmarked the lion's share of his future earnings to pay off his creditors. The list includes the Falcons - who are owed a portion of the bonus money they previously paid Vick - his former agent, the Internal Revenue Service and assorted banks, lawyers and accountants, among others.
Darren Rovell of CNBC.com broke down the numbers with the help of one of the lawyers who worked on Vick's bankruptcy case. With an annual income of approximately $17 million, Vick will first have to pay taxes, leaving him with net pay of $10 million.
From that, Vick gets to take a $300,000 allowance. Creditors get a sliding percentage of the remainder, a total of almost $6 million per year.
In addition, Vick must pay his former girlfriend, his mother and others, leaving him with roughly $3.7 million per year, of which half goes to his lawyers and accountants.
After everyone gets their cut, Vick ends up with just under $2 million, or roughly 11% of what he earns from playing football.
However, he can't touch more than the $300,000 allowance until all of his creditors have been paid, which will be after the 2014 season should he still be playing for the Eagles.
Whether Vick's redemption will ever be complete is debatable. But it's clear he's still paying a monetary price for his actions.