Let’s get this out of the way early in the offseason—a Michael Vick-Cincinnati Bengals marriage makes zero sense.
It is easy to see why this sort of nonsense is making the rounds. After all, the perceived issue on the Cincinnati roster — a roster that is currently in what could be described as a championship window — is quarterback Andy Dalton. Add this with the notion that Marvin Lewis loves his reclamation projects, and the reasoning for these whispers makes a shred of sense.
That is why Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com can be forgiven for pushing this thought around early last month:
If Saturday’s playoff loss showed Cincinnati anything, it is that they might need to move on from Andy Dalton. Dalton appears to be the weak link on the team, and his two interceptions will raise serious doubts about him going into next season. Vick would not be handed the job, but if he wins it, Vick will find himself as the quarterback on a playoff ready team — something he couldn’t find anywhere else.
Of course, advocates of the move will point to apparently ageless comments made by Vick himself almost two years ago, when he revealed that he thought the Bengals were a better choice than the Philadelphia Eagles, via AJ Daulerio of Deadspin:
“I think I can say this now, because it’s not going to hurt anybody’s feelings, and it’s the truth… I didn’t want to come to Philadelphia. Being the third-team quarterback is nothing to smile about. Cincinnati and Buffalo were better options.”
Those two teams wanted him and would’ve allowed him to start, but after meeting with commissioner Roger Goodell and other reps from the NFL, Vick was convinced—and granted league approval—to sign with Philly. “And I commend and thank them, because they put me in the right situation.”
Alright—those are the reasons many, especially those who want to see Dalton take a seat, may want to see Vick in Bengals stripes.
Now, let’s tear it apart. The last time Vick has played in a full 16-game season was in 2006. He is the definition of fragile, which is a horrible mix with his play style that leaves him susceptible to an unacceptable amount of hits. This will not improve — Vick will be 34 years old by the time next season kicks off.
If the Bengals are going to replace Dalton they are going to do it, meaning they will not take a risk on having multiple signal-callers play next year if they can help it. Continuity is important and has been a theme of the organization for years — for better or worse.
Say Cincinnati does want to replace Dalton (which the staff clearly does not want to do, anyway). Knowing Marvin Lewis and his staff, the replacement will come via the draft at some point, not free agency. If free agency is for some reason the avenue they decide to travel, other names such as Jay Cutler will likely get a look first.
There is nothing to suggest the Bengals would look at Vick as a starter, which is his ultimate goal at his new place of employment, according to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News:
Just talked to Mike Vick. As expected, his career will continue elsewhere. Very badly wants chance to start in 2014.
— Les Bowen (@LesBowen) January 30, 2014
Vick does fit the Cincinnati offense, but his less than 60 percent completion average in each of the last four seasons should tell fans he is a downgrade in the accuracy department. If Dalton drives them nuts, Vick would incite a riot. To be fair, the simplistic attack where Dalton is asked to make few reads and get the ball out quickly to rely on receivers for yardage would help mitigate this issue with Vick — but only to an extent.
Honestly, if the Bengals wanted to take more of a read-option approach at quarterback, they would be better fitted to give Josh Johnson the nod (or make Dalton do it more considering the consistent success he found later last year). Johnson is not even a lock to stay on the roster any longer, especially with Jay Gruden gone, who had prior experience with him.
Vick is nothing more than a name at this point. He is no longer a reclamation project with the way he has turned his life around, but he does not stay healthy consistently enough for the Bengals to simply grab him and ruin every bit of continuity the offense currently has.
Vick will surely get a shot again in the NFL in some capacity, but it won’t be with the Bengals.