FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. - Michael Vick became the richest player in the NFL by agreeing to call Atlanta home for the next decade.
The Falcons’ star quarterback signed a 10-year, $130 million contract extension Thursday that guarantees him an NFL-record $37 million in bonuses.
“You know, making a commitment says a lot, not just to me, but to our team,” Vick said with a smile. “It means a lot to me.”
Vick’s contract surpasses the $98 million deal Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning signed in March — although Manning’s contract is for seven years. Manning was guaranteed $34.5 million in bonuses.
Falcons general manager Rich McKay and Vick’s agent, Joel Segal, began negotiations more than two months ago. They reached an agreement in principle Monday afternoon.
Vick signed the deal 20 minutes before an afternoon news conference to announce the extension.
“A lot of guys come into the league, they bounce around and never really find a home,” Vick said. “But I’m very excited to know that I’ll be here and have an opportunity to bring a Super Bowl to this city.”
The No. 1 overall draft pick in 2001, Vick 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 after injuring his left (throwing) shoulder in last week’s overtime win over Carolina.
Rookie Matt Schaub hasn’t been told he will start against the Saints, 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 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 game.
“I’ll share with you a comment I made to Michael and his agent over the summer,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. “I think Michael kind of flinched when I said. ‘You understand that the only way you’ll leave Atlanta will be in a box.’ And I said, ‘Coming from New York, you understand what I’m talking about.’ “
According to a league official who requested anonymity, both parties faced a Dec. 31 deadline in which Vick had reached incentives that allowed him to void the 2005 and ’06 seasons of the six-year, $62 million contract he signed in 2001.
The Falcons had the option of buying back both years to prevent Vick from becoming an unrestricted free agent March 2, but that choice would have charged them a combined $17.25 million against the NFL salary caps of ’05 and ’06.
By signing Vick to an extension before Dec. 31, Atlanta created approximately $2 million in cap savings next year and $1 million the following season.
“That was the only time barrier that was there,” McKay said. “Because once we exercised that option, we’d eaten up all this year’s room, so we can’t do a new deal until next year.”
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Dec. 24: Falcons owner Arthur Blank and quarterback Michael Vick discuss the player's huge 10-year contract that he signed Thursday.
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