The Atlanta Falcons today announced that they have extended the contract of Pro Bowl QB Michael Vick. Terms of the contract were not disclosed.
Michael Vick chats with reporters Thursday after signing a long-term contract extension with the Falcons
“This is a terrific day for Michael, for Atlanta Falcons fans, and for the entire Falcons organization,” said team owner & CEO Arthur Blank. “We’ve said on numerous occasions that this franchise is committed to bringing a world championship to the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, as well as to building a sustainable winning organization consistently in the hunt. Today’s contract extension for Michael, in our opinion, moves us closer to achieving these goals.
“Michael is arguably the NFL’s most exciting football player. He’s a tremendous competitor, a winner, and an outstanding young man who is well deserving of this extension,” Blank continued. “History shows that great teams that are able to win over long periods of time are anchored by tremendous quarterbacks. Coupled with the coaching staff, front office, and players we have in place, as well as the players we will add in the future, we feel our team is well-positioned for long-term success.”
“Our object will always be centered and focused on keeping together our core players and clearly Michael Vick is one of those players,” said Falcons president & general manager Rich McKay, who orchestrated Vick’s contract extension.
“At a relatively early stage in his career, Michael has established himself as one of the best players at his position and that is very hard to do. Arthur (Blank) has made it clear to me that he will do whatever it takes to bring a championship to the city of Atlanta, and extending Michael’s contract is obviously an important piece of that pursuit. From a football standpoint, we’re always going to be looking for ways of improving our team, and when you have an exceptional guy who plays the pivot position, known in football as the quarterback, you’re going to have a chance to be very successful year in and year out.”
Vick, 6-0, 215 pounds, was chosen by the Falcons with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2001 NFL Draft out of Virginia Tech. The Falcons made a trade with the San Diego Chargers on the eve of the draft in order to acquire the pick to draft Vick. The NFL’s fifth-winningest active starting quarterback (minimum 35 starts) with a .671 winning percentage, Vick’s play has been a vital component for the Falcons, who have now secured two playoff berths in the last three years.
With a style of play which cannot be completely measured by statistics, Vick’s unique combination of athleticism and instinct has contributed to him being one of the NFL’s most recognizable superstars despite being only 24 years of age.
Earlier this week, Vick was named to his second Pro Bowl for his performance during the 2004 season, which to date has included 2,278 yards passing and 889 yards rushing, along with 16 combined touchdowns (13 passing and 3 rushing).
Vick’s 889 rushing yards this season currently rank him third on the NFL’s all-time list for the most rushing yards by a quarterback. He needs 80 more yards to break Chicago QB Bobby Douglass’ 32-year-old record of 968 yards set in 1972. Vick’s rushing total includes three 100-yard games in 2004, which ties the single-season modern day record for the most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback. His 104 yards rushing in the Falcons 14-10 win over the New York Giants on November 21 gave him the fifth 100-yard rushing game of his career, the most for a quarterback in NFL history. Twice named the NFC Offensive Player of the Week in 2004, Vick became the first player ever to throw for more than 250 yards and rush for more than 100 yards in the same game in the Falcons 41-28 victory over Denver on October 31.
In his first full season as a starter in 2002, Vick led the Falcons to a 9-6-1 record, enabling them to earn a playoff berth as a Wild Card entry. In the NFC Wild Card Game at frigid Lambeau Field, the Falcons made history in becoming the first team ever to defeat the Green Bay Packers in a home playoff game.
Vick’s 2002 season culminated with him being named to the NFC’s Pro Bowl squad, making him – at 22 years, seven months and seven days – the second-youngest quarterback (Dan Marino, 22 years, four months, 14 days) ever selected to play in the game. The Pro Bowl honor came on the heels of a season in which Vick set four NFL records and five team records as a first-year starter. As a passer, Vick’s 2002 statistics included a 55-percent completion rate (231-of-421 passes) for 2,936 yards and a two-to-one touchdown-to-interception ratio (16-8). Vick did not throw an interception until the first quarter of the season’s eighth game at Baltimore.
What separated Vick from the rest of the NFL’s quarterbacks was what he could do with his legs as he finished the 2002 campaign with 777 yards, the third-highest total for a quarterback at the time (since surpassed by his 889 yards this season). Vick’s play was the catalyst during an eight-game unbeaten streak (7-0-1) in the middle of the 2002 season, which culminated with a 30-24 overtime victory at Minnesota. Against the Vikings, Vick set single-game NFL records for the most rushing yards by a quarterback with 173 yards and the highest single-game rushing average (17.3 yards per carry). His 46-yard touchdown run in overtime capped off a game in which he combined for 325 yards in total offense (173 rushing, 152 passing) and three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing).
In 2003, a broken right fibula suffered in the second preseason game against the Baltimore Ravens sidelined Vick for the first 11-plus games of the regular season. Vick made his first start of 2003 in the season’s 13th game against the Carolina Panthers. Despite more than three months of inactivity, Vick accounted for 320 (179 passing, 141 rushing) of the Falcons 380 yards in total offense, including the second 100-yard rushing game of his career (14-141) as the Falcons upset the eventual NFC Champion Panthers 20-14 in overtime.
Vick would eventually lead the Falcons to a 3-1 record over the last four games of the season, including a 30-28 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which snapped a six-game losing streak to the Buccaneers.