Michael Vick's limited Wildcat action last Sunday was hardly impressive, but it was enough to spur trade speculation this week. That chatter will pick up when the Eagles unfurl a more complicated scheme in the coming weeks and Vick actually starts doing something.
Vick said the Eagles were just beginning to experiment with the Wildcat in their 34-14 win over the Chiefs. That makes sense, because the coaching staff focused on making starter Kevin Kolb effective in the base offense. When they did use the Wildcat, they weren't particularly creative. For example, Kolb lined up at receiver on one play and was uncovered, but they didn't have a play to get him the ball.
When Donovan McNabb returns from his rib injury after the bye in Week 5, coach Andy Reid will try to take advantage of having two bona fide passing threats on the field at once. Watch for Vick to hit on a long pass out of the Wildcat before long. Once he gets a few completions, teams around the NFL are going to start watching him very carefully.
Meanwhile, Kolb's success in two fill-in starts could have a lasting impact on the organization. When considering McNabb's long-term replacement, Kolb seems like a better fit for the Eagles than Vick. Vick can do a lot on his own, but Kolb would help young playmakers like DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek and LeSean McCoy become stars.
The Eagles can't keep all three quarterbacks next season. Vick is due $5.2 million and Kolb will be a free agent after 2010-11 and could also be trade bait, although he may not be as valuable as Vick on the open market. McNabb signed a two-year extension before the season, but the deal is set up so they can cut him without devastating salary-cap ramifications.
The most likely man out is Vick, especially if the Eagles can get a second-round pick for him. Cracks are already appearing at the quarterback position around the league. NFL.com's Pat Kirwan suggested Philly should trade Vick during this season, but it's hard to imagine a team would want to bring him in without any time to teach him the offense.
Here's my best guess at the 10 teams most likely to trade for Vick in the offseason. Some of these teams already said no to Vick this summer, but the quarterback's image has changed.
1. Minnesota: Vick would thrive on a team with a strong running attack that only needs an occasional vertical threat to keep defenses honest. That's why the Vikes wanted Brett Favre. Assuming he retires and stays retired, Vick could step right in.
2. Cleveland: The Browns will have to start over on offfense next season, so there's no worry Vick won't fit their system. They could build around his skills. All the concerns about the "Dawg Pound" conflict will dissipate as Vick continues to rebuild his image.
3. Oakland: This is the cliché choice, but makes sense because of Al Davis' infatuation with the long passing game and propensity to bring in big names.
4. Jacksonville: The Jags got a close-up look at Vick in the preseason. Unless they rebound from a lackluster 1-2 start, they're probably going to be starting over in many ways next season. They certainly could have used Vick to sell some tickets this season.
5. Buffalo: Taking on Vick this season with Terrell Owens would have been too much. But he might make sense if Dick Jauron doesn't return and the new coach doesn't like Trent "Check Down" Edwards' conservative style.
6. Miami: Some thought the Dolphins would call the Eagles when Chad Pennington went down to use him in their Wildcat and put him in the starting QB mix. If Chad Henne doesn't wow the coaching staff, Miami could consider Vick as an intermediate-term option as it continues to look for Dan Marino's replacement.
7. Carolina: The Panthers have a strong running game and don't need an accurate quarterback to move the ball down the field with short passes. They weren't interested in Vick this summer when they decided Jake Delhomme was their QB of the future. Not sure that's going to work out.
8. St. Louis: The Rams may draft a quarterback high next season after passing on QBs in the first round the last couple of years. The 29-year-old Vick would be a good stop-gap as a rookie sits on the bench and learns.
9. Washington: A lot depends on who is coaching next season. Vick might not be a match for Mike Holmgren's West Coast offense. His red-hot jersey sales, however, would fit owner Daniel Snyder's gameplan.
10. Tennessee: Vince Young is due a lot of money next season and probably won't be back with the Titans, while Kerry Collins may be running out of gas. They're cautious on troubled players after Pacman Jones, but Vick's reinvention as a quality person will be in full swing by next spring.