Two teams with unsettled quarterback situations - the San Francisco 49ers and the Minnesota Vikings - might be interested in acquiring suspended Atlanta Falcons star Michael Vick.
Vick is in federal prison on felony charges related to
dogfighting and is scheduled to be released in July. The Falcons
have said they will try to trade him, though they could cut him and
make him a free agent.
San Francisco coach Mike Singletary said Vick deserves the
chance to play in the league, and believes he will be successful if
he returns. He wouldn't say if the 49ers would pursue him.
"He's still under contract, you can't really talk to him or
have any contact with him," Singletary said. "Right now, we're
just going to look at the quarterbacks we have and go from there."
There might be questions about Vick's sharpness and conditioning
because he hasn't played since 2006, but he's a proven winner who
led the Falcons to an NFC championship game and has been to three
Pro Bowls. The dynamic athlete has the NFL single-season record for
yards rushing by a quarterback with 1,039 in 2006, and is third
all-time. He also has passed for 11,505 yards in six seasons, with
71 touchdowns and 52 interceptions.
Singletary said the team would likely enter training camp with
Shaun Hill as the No. 1 quarterback. Hill passed for 2,046 yards
and had an 87.5 passer rating last season, but that wasn't enough
to impress 49ers general manager Scot McCloughan, who said the team
clearly needs to upgrade the position.
"I'm not going to get into names," he said. "The important
thing now is which ones fit that (system). It has to be a chemistry
where he fits in with everybody. There's value out there, and it's
a position we need to address, whether it's the draft or free
Minnesota coach Brad Childress said the Vikings are looking for
someone to challenge Tarvaris Jackson, and are willing to make
moves to ensure that it happens.
"We need to put somebody in place that will push him and
compete with him," Childress said. "I think competition is the
nature of the game."
Childress wouldn't confirm or deny interest in Vick.
"I really don't get into hypotheticals because I think there's
too much water that's got to happen. I'd cross that bridge when I
come to it."
Veteran Gus Frerotte, who started for much of last season before
getting injured, isn't sure if he'll return. The Vikings say they
would welcome Frerotte back, though he has made it clear he wants
Jackson began last season as Minnesota's starter, but was
benched for Frerotte after the Vikings began the season 0-2.
Frerotte went 8-3 as a starter, but he suffered a hand injury, and
the Vikings turned to Jackson again. Jackson led the Vikings to the
playoffs and finished the season with a 95.4 passer rating, the
best of his three-year career. He has 20 touchdown passes and 18
interceptions in his career.
"I think that Tarvaris has to continue to improve, and I
believe he will," Childress said. "I think he gave some glimpses,
coming back in cold off the bench and doing some of the things he
did. Obviously, he's got to eliminate some of those turnovers."
The New York Jets also will have a new quarterback after Brett
Favre's retirement, but they appear to be happier than the 49ers
and Vikings with what they have. New coach Rex Ryan said the team
feels comfortable with Kellen Clemens, Brett Ratliff and Eric Ainge
competing for the job.
"I think if you ask the organization, it's probably split on
who they think can do it." Ryan said. "It's definitely an open
Ryan said he'd lean toward choosing among his three
quarterbacks. He said he's not interested in selling the future for
a quick fix.
"Right now, I'd rather have our draft picks," Ryan said. "I'd
rather not talk about any potential free agent out there, with the
tampering rules and everything else the way they are."