Vick gets new contract, record signing bonus

Friday, December 24, 2004

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Michael Vick couldn't be happier.

The Atlanta Falcons offered him the ultimate show of respect with a 10-year contract that guarantees the star quarterback an NFL-record $37 million in bonuses and is worth more than $100 million.

"It is, man. It is," Vick said with a smile on Thursday. "You know, making a commitment says a lot, not just to me, but to our team. It means a lot to me."

Vick told The Associated Press two hours before a scheduled news conference to announce the deal that his agent, Joel Segal, reached an agreement in principle with Falcons general manager Rich McKay after Atlanta's overtime victory over Carolina on Saturday night.

Vick confirmed that the deal is worth over $100 million.

"I just went out and played my game and didn't worry about it," Vick said. "I just left it in the hands of my agent and my attorneys (to) take it from there."

Vick's contract surpasses the $98 million deal Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning signed in March. Manning was guaranteed $34.5 million in bonuses.

According to a league official who requested anonymity, Vick reached incentives in his original contract, a six-year, $62 million deal, that would have allowed him to void the 2005 and 2006 seasons next month. Had he done so, the 24-year-old Vick would have become an unrestricted free agent on March 2.

Vick's new deal was first reported by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on its Web site.

"We've said on numerous occasions that this franchise is committed to bringing a world championship to the city of Atlanta, the state of Georgia, as well as to building a sustainable winning organization consistently in the hunt," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement. "Today's contract extension for Michael, in our opinion, moves us closer to achieving those goals."

Vick, the No. 1 overall draft pick of 2001, has a 24-12-1 career record. He is 14-4 since returning from a broken ankle last year, and this season led the Falcons to just the third division title in franchise history.

Atlanta earned a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs following the win over Carolina and Green Bay's loss to Jacksonville. The Falcons (11-3) visit New Orleans on Sunday, but Vick missed his second straight practice Thursday because of an injured left shoulder.

Rookie Matt Schaub hasn't been told he will start, but the third-round pick from Virginia is prepared to do so. If he does play, Schaub won't try to play like Vick, who leads the NFL with 7.6 yards per carry.

Schaub, like many of his teammates, considers Vick to be a freak of nature.

"Yeah, pretty much," Schaub said. "I always thought he was watching him on TV, but seeing it up close every day is something else."

Vick, chosen Wednesday to his second Pro Bowl, needs 80 yards to break the single-season record for rushing by a quarterback, set by Chicago's Bobby Douglass in 1972.

In a Week 8 victory at Denver, Vick became the first player in league history to rush for 100 yards and pass for 250 in a single game.

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