Free Agent Status: Unrestricted
2015 Salary Cap Hit: $585,000
2015 Season Breakdown: Mike Vick would have already been retired had it not been for Chris Hubbard.
Well, it’s a plausible theory at least. You see, during the 2015 preseason, the Steelers were trying to flex out their second-year lineman in the hopes of increasing his value, so they were feeding him some reps at the center position, which he had not done, at least in games or in recorded open practices, in his prior two seasons with the team, nor had he done so in college.
Hubbard had difficulties with his snaps at times, and one of those difficulties came with Bruce Gradkowski under center, who had already been ailing with a weak shoulder. On this occasion, Hubbard snapped the ball right into Gradkowski’s leg, producing a fumble that the veteran quarterback had to fall on, in doing so injuring his thumb and re-injuring his shoulder, resulting in subsequent surgeries and a season on injured reserve.
The Steelers at the time were far from confident in the abilities of third-year quarterback Landry Jones, a former fourth-round draft pick who in his first two seasons was never even active for a game. So when the they lost their backup quarterback, they looked for another one, and the only feasible alternative in their estimation was Mike Vick.
Over the course of the prior two seasons, the Steelers didn’t really even need Gradkowski, so perhaps there wasn’t too great concern in the first place. The only snaps that Ben Roethlisberger missed due to injury was a three-snap stretch in the Wildcard game of 2014.
But as fate would have it, Roethlisberger missed significant time in 2015, the most time he has ever missed, including a four-game stretch with a sprained MCL and a bone bruise. Vick started the first three games, losing the first one due to an anemic offense and two missed field goals in overtime, willing the second one when the running back ran in a walk-off touchdown out of the Wildcat, and then seeing Jones come off the bench after he left the third game with a hamstring injury to lead a comeback.
Free Agency Outlook: That, right there, was essentially the unofficial end of Vick’s career, when the Steelers realized that even Jones was better than Vick, who will never play another snap in the NFL again if the world makes any sort of conceivable sense. It’s a wonder that the only interception he ended up throwing was a Hail Mary pass when about 10 to 15 percent of the passes he threw could have conceivably been picked off.
Putting aside any and all off-field issues, the basic fact of the matter is that Vick’s play on the field was significantly below the line in very basic ways that are not explained by his lack of time in the offense. He was running on the fumes of his earlier talent, which is now limited to a quality scramble or two. I would be shocked if he ever plays in the NFL again, and appalled if it’s with the Steelers—for on-field reasons.