Before there was Robert Griffin III and Colin Kaepernick and Russell Wilson and the talk of a pistol revolution, there was a guy named Michael Vick.
Before the dogs, before his deserved entrance into villainy, before the concussions, he was the most dangerous offensive weapon in football. Sure, it seems like a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away but it really wasn't. Just a matter of a few years.
Vick started in only 11 games in 2010 (playing in 12) but he still set personal highs for passing yards, quarterback rating and rushing scores, among other statistics, and was the Comeback Player of the Year and made the Pro Bowl.
Now comes the ultimate question, one not just for the Philadelphia Eagles, but for the entire NFC East, and maybe a Super Bowl contender looking for a quarterback: How much of that old Vick is left? A little? A lot? Is he 80 percent of that old Vick? Thirty?
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These are the questions the Eagles are actually still researching and they are extraordinarily difficult question to answer. Far more difficult than appears on the surface.
A person familiar with the Eagles' thinking says new coach Chip Kelly likes the idea of keeping Vick (at a cheaper price) but genuinely doesn't know exactly what he has with the quarterback. Kelly and others on the Eagles' staff have poured over game tape of Vick from last season and beyond and still believe he is more than a viable thrower.
One of the big concerns the new staff has is completely understandable: Vick's injury history, including concussions.
Vick has never finished an entire NFL season and recently has been ravaged by those frightening concussions. He missed the latter part of the 2012 season with a severe one and we are reaching the point where another nasty hit to Vick's head could end his career.
As one general manager explained, concussions are now to the NFL what torn ACLs once were. Before the technology to probe the brain improved so dramatically and quickly, few teams genuinely cared about concussion history. A torn knee? Yes. A busted head? So what. That has totally reversed itself because we now know knees can be much more easily repaired and the extent of the damage football does to the mind remains a question.
Kelly is also concerned about the massive amount of Vick turnovers but also knows that a nice chunk of those come from Vick getting hit so much.
Kelly also likes quarterback Nick Foles, but I'm told he's not as high on Foles as some believe. Don't be shocked if Kelly makes a strong run at Alex Smith and dumps Vick, who is on the roster for now, especially if Vick doesn't take a pay cut.
There is definitely interest in Vick among a handful of teams needing quarterbacks but they have the same concerns about the health of his brain that the Eagles do.
These are the facts with which Kelly is wrestling. Does Vick have a two-to-three year run left in a body that is becoming more injury prone and concussed than ever? Can Kelly's offense protect Vick the way former coach Andy Reid could not?
There is also no question that the Eagles don't want Vick to leave the franchise and go somewhere else and reenergize his career. Imagine the Dallas Cowboys signing Vick as a backup as insurance for when Tony Romo begins to choke again and he somehow comes back to light up the Eagles.
Remember the time when the league spoke of Vick the same way it does of the young quarterbacking stars now? He was the future. He was going to change football and in some ways he did just that.
How much of that Vick is left? The Eagles are wondering the same.