After winning his first division title and earning his second Pro Bowl berth, Michael Vick received a multi-year contract extension. The Atlanta
Falcons announced the agreement with their star quarterback on Thursday, but did not disclose terms. However, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is
reporting the deal is worth 100 million over 10 years that guarantees an NFL-record 37 million in bonuses.
Five-time Pro Bowl quarterback Peyton Manning is the league's highest-paid player with an annual salary of 14 million after signing a seven-year deal
worth 98 million with a signing bonus of 34 million last spring. Vick had signed a six-year, 62 million deal in 2001 that would have allowed him to
void the 2005 and 2006 seasons next month. If he had done so, Vick would have been eligible to become an unrestricted free agent in March.
The Falcons were not about to let that happen.
"Michael is arguably the NFL's most exciting player," Falcons owner Arthur Blank said. "He's a tremendous competitor, a winner and an outstanding
young man who is well deserving of this extension.
"We've said on numerous occasions that the franchise is committed to bringing a world championship to the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia, as
well as building a sustainable winning organization consistently in the hunt.
"Today's contract extension for Michael, in our opinion, moves us closer to achieving those goals."
The Falcons have already clinched the NFC South title with an 11-3 record, their first division title since 1998. Considered by many to be the NFL's
most electrifying player, Vick earned his second Pro Bowl berth on Wednesday. He beats teams with his arm and legs, throwing for 2,278 yards and 13
touchdowns with 12 interceptions and rushing for a career-high 889 yards and three scores this season.
The 24-year-old Vick, who is listed as questionable for this Sunday's game against New Orleans with a sprained shoulder, needs just 79 yards to tie
the NFL single-season rushing record for quarterbacks in a season. Chicago's Bobby Douglass set the mark with 968 in 1972. Vick is already in the NFL
record books for most rushing yards in a game by a quarterback (173) and most rushing yards by a quarterback in his first two seasons (1,006).
"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,"
Falcons general manager Rich McKay said.
"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."
The first overall pick in the 2001 draft, Vick has a career record of 24-12-1 with the Falcons.
He is 14-4 since returning from a broken ankle last year. Vick earned his first Pro Bowl berth in 2002, completing 231-of-421 passes for 2,730 yards
and 16 touchdowns with eight interceptions. He also rushed for 777 yards and eight scores as the Falcons made the playoffs with a 9-6-1 record. In
2003, Vick missed the first 11 games after breaking his right ankle in a preseason game and did not start until Atlanta's 13th game. After a 2-10
start, the Falcons won three times in their final five games following Vick's return to the starting lineup.
[Edited on 12/24/04 by SportzWriter]