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Debate Friday: Vick in New England?

Now that he's been released from prison and is serving a two-month home confinement sentence, former Falcons QB Michael Vickcould soon be looking for an NFL job again. There's one catch, however. He must first be reinstated to the league by Commissioner Roger Goodell.

When and if that occurs, another obvious question will arise: which team(s) will be interested in signing him?

The Ask PFW inbox has been flooded with such queries in recent days. So, we figured this would be a no-brainer Debate Friday topic:

Should the Patriots try to acquire Michael Vick if he's reinstated?

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Andy Hart says, "Yes …"**

This is probably not going to be a popular argument – at least not with the politically correct soap-box crowd like budding artist Erik Scalavino – but I'd be willing to give Vick a chance. Obviously there would be some pretty clear ground rules put in place and some serious homework would be done before the signing, including making sure he still has the athletic ability he had before going to prison. I am of the belief that, for the most part, people deserve second chances. He's paid his price to society, at least in the eyes of the courts. He's paid his price to the league in terms of losing his huge contract and missing a big chunk of time in the middle of his career. I just don't think what he did – especially compared to what others have done and still been allowed to play in the NFL – warrants a permanent blackballing from the league.

From a Patriots perspective, I think there is a both a need and an opportunity for Vick. If he's truly looking to rehab his career, his life and his image, then what better place to do that than working alongside Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady? Again, before signing him I'd be darn sure he truly wants to turn things around and isn't living the same ego-driven, no-rules life that he's clearly led for long periods of time in the past.

On the field I think the move makes a lot of sense. Say what you want about Vick as a two-time Pro Bowl starting NFL quarterback – although is winning record (38-28-1) is pretty impressive in that role – he's a pretty good option to have as a backup QB, a Wildcat alternative and overall athlete to add to your roster. At worst, he's a rich man's Pat White. Give him a few snaps in the Wildcat and watch him run and throw his way through overmatched opposing defenses. Give him a few handoffs or tosses out of the backfield. Line him up in the slot. I have to think at this point he'd be willing to do all those things, especially to compete for a championship with a well-respected franchise like the Patriots. If he's not, then don't bring him in. It's up to him what he wants to do with his life, his career and his future.

I know people are worried about the PR and protesters that would come with signing Vick. I'm not. Sorry, but people have a right to move on with their lives and work to get past prior mistakes. Hopefully that's what Vick is looking to do. I think he's the perfect example of a guy who got caught up in a lifestyle based in ego, money, hangers-on and sub-culture that most of us aren't capable of understanding. I think the events of the last few years opened his eyes to the terrible things he's done and the price he had to pay for those social, criminal and moral errors in judgment have been pretty severe.

If Roger Goodell reinstates Vick and if he's ready to turn his life around I'd give him a chance to do so on a low-risk, high-reward deal in New England. Any crap, drama, or single step toward the lifestyle he led in the past and I'd throw him out on his ear. But America is about opportunity and Vick, as much as any other person who's made serious mistakes, deserves the opportunity to try to right his wrongs on and off the football field. I'd give him the chance to do just that in New England, while also potentially reaping the rewards of one of the great athletes the league has ever seen.

~ AH

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Erik Scalavino argues, "No …"**

I'm going to do my best to keep my very strong, personal feelings for this reprehensible character out of this argument. No guarantees, but I'll try.

From a strictly football standpoint, Vick on the Pats makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. For starters, New England has a starter at Vick's position. Perhaps the best there's ever been. Which means, there's virtually no chance Vick would see significant minutes in that capacity.

If ever there was a time the Pats needed an experienced backup, it was last season, when Tom Brady was lost for the season with a knee injury in the first game. The odds of that scenario playing itself out again are, at best, slim. So, Vick's role would likely be as a Wildcat QB, meaning he'd see the field maybe a half-dozen times per game, if that.

There are a couple of reasons why this wouldn't work. For one, I think Vick thinks he's still a starting-caliber quarterback. If that's the case, I doubt he'd want to carry anyone's clipboard.

But let's assume he did. Word is, Vick lost a fortune as a result of his despicable indiscretions, and he's going to want to dig himself out of his sizeable financial hole – i.e., he won't come cheap. And the last thing the Pats need, especially given that they're trying to re-sign productive players like Vince Wilfork, is an overpaid backup QB.

But let's further assume that the unthinkable happens again and Brady does go down for an extended period of time. Would Vick be capable of leading the Pats offense, or would the team be better served giving the keys to a younger, unproven guy (like they did last year with Matt Cassel) like Kevin O'Connell. While we still may not know exactly what O'Connell can do, we know exactly what Vick can – or at least could – do on the football field. He was a dynamic player when he ran with the ball, but he was an underwhelming passer who showed poor decision-making skills. That's not who the kind of player I want taking over my offense.

There's certainly the circus-like atmosphere to consider as well. Whichever team gives Vick a second chance runs the risk of having unwanted attention in the form of highly visible protests from animal rights groups. Who knows how ugly or how prolonged such demonstrations (however warranted or unwarranted) might turn out to be. New England doesn't need that type of distraction coming to Foxborough and following it around when it plays on the road.

However, the bottom line is this: the Patriots don't need Michael Vick to win football games. They have all the talent they need on offense already. And then some. Talent-wise, Vick's addition to the Pats attack would be a great, but seldom-used, weapon. What the Patriots need to help solidify their 2009 run to the Super Bowl is a pass-rushing specialist at outside linebacker. That's where the team needs to focus its attention right now.

~ ES

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