NFL: Falcons release Vick
ATLANTA ó Less than five years after the Atlanta Falcons signed Michael Vick to a $130 million contract, the suspended quarterback was released in a 98-word statement.
Before Friday’s announcement ó a move that clears Vick to sign with any NFL team ó general manager Thomas Dimitroff called the team’s former franchise player.
Dimitroff said Vick, who has missed two seasons while serving a prison sentence for running a dogfighting ring, deserved to hear first about his release. He said Vick “was upbeat” in the short conversation and was looking forward to moving on.
“Respect him as an individual and as an athlete in this profession. It was the right thing to do and I’m happy that we had a conversation today.”
Dimitroff said releasing Vick allows the Falcons “to have a clean slate going into the summer” and allows Vick the freedom to negotiate with other teams.
“I think what we thought about a lot was going into the summer, having a clean slate, not talking about this a lot and not having this be any sort of an issue at all, for Michael, for us,” Dimitroff said. “It was about being positive. It was about moving forward.”
Vick is eligible to immediately sign with a team even though he has not been reinstated by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
The Falcons’ move was no surprise.
“Everybody always knew that Mike wouldn’t be playing with the Falcons,” Vick’s agent, Joel Segal, said. “He’s really just taking it one day at a time.”
The NFL had no comment on Vick’s release.
Goodell has said he will sit down with Vick after the quarterback completes his 23-month sentence on July 20 for running a dogfighting ring.
“Michael’s going to have to demonstrate to myself and the general public and to a lot of people, did he learn anything from this experience? Does he regret what happened?” Goodell said last month at the NFL meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Does he feel that he can be a positive influence going forward? Those are questions that I would like to see when I sit with him.”
Vick, once the highest-paid player in the NFL, is making $10 an hour as a construction worker while he serves the final two months of his sentence on home confinement in Hampton, Va. He was released from federal prison in Kansas on May 20.
Atlanta had long since turned the page on Vick. The Falcons made quarterback Matt Ryan the No. 3 overall pick in last year’s draft. Ryan started every game as a rookie and led the Falcons to the playoffs.
Vick was a three-time Pro Bowl selection and led the Falcons to the 2005 NFC championship game.
Dimitroff said Friday’s release came only after the team was unable to trade Vick’s rights.
“There were a number of teams that were open to discussion but at the very end without mentioning the teams they just felt like it was not the right time to do it for them and we just decided to move forward,” Dimitroff said.