Inside the Eagles: Long-term quarterback forecast for Eagles remains cloudy
The odds were always in favor of Michael Vick, but now that he has won the Eagles' starting-quarterback job, his long-term prospects at the position remain as uncertain as ever.
For those who had tired of Vick and didn't believe he could learn new tricks, the best-case scenario heading into training camp would have been for either Nick Foles or Matt Barkley to win the competition.
Foles gave it a valiant try, and will be a suitable backup to Vick, but he now has two strikes. When Kelly brought Vick back in February on a one-year contract, he made it clear that he didn't think enough of Foles to hand the franchise over to the second-year quarterback.
And now that he has lost out to the 33-year-old Vick, who had the least going for him in terms of Kelly's long-range plans, Foles' future with the Eagles has dimmed even more. But the season is long, and Vick is more likely to get injured than not, so the 24-year-old Foles may have the opportunity to rewrite the narrative.
"You never know what happens," Foles said. "I'm going to continue to work toward that. That's my goal. I'm not going to just sit here and want to sit here."
But he is sitting and it's not in the driver's seat.
Barkley never got close to taking snaps with the first-team offense. Vick and Foles certainly made it difficult for the rookie to sneak into the competition, but it's been clear that he isn't yet ready.
Will he ever be? Maybe. But the likelihood of a fourth-round draft pick, especially one with questionable arm strength, becoming a franchise-caliber quarterback is slim. Barkley deserves time to develop, and it may take a few late-season starts for Kelly to see what he has, but it's probable the coach already has a grasp on his ceiling.
Which brings us back to Vick, who despite his age has a better chance of starting beyond this season than either Foles or Barkley. There are plenty of obstacles - Vick's tendency for injury, his habit of regressing after he has passed a milestone.
But Kelly's offense should afford Vick the opportunity to put up impressive numbers and, more important, win games. Will the Eagles win more than they lose? It's possible. Only the defense really knows.
We're getting a little ahead of ourselves here, but Vick should be able to do enough to at least be in the argument for next season. And then what? Could the Eagles possibly hand him another contract? If he does enough to warrant consideration, wouldn't he be in play for an extended deal?
"I feel like I can play at a high level, and that doesn't change," Vick said. "As long as I keep my body in shape, I can always be a difference-maker if I can continue to do all the right things, on and off the field. So I just don't want to let up.
"I feel like the sky's the limit."
If Kelly is reaching for the heavens, is it practical for him to think that Vick, Foles, or Barkley will lead him there? He may believe that he can win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback. He came close to winning a national championship at Oregon without one.
But he needs at least a certain caliber of quarterback in the NFL. And he needs one who can rise to the challenge until the defense can consistently help win games. The Eagles won't be turned around in a year, which was why bringing Vick back was always a curious decision.
But Kelly laid it out in February, when he said the "landscape for other quarterbacks" played a part in the decision to keep Vick. In other words, he didn't believe there was better talent in free agency, the draft, or on his roster.
Vick was his best option for 2013 - hence the contract worth upward of $10 million. And when the season is over, Kelly will go back to the chalkboard, look at the landscape, and likely view the coming draft, one said to be rich at quarterback, as his best long-term solution.
But there is still a draft position to be decided. And, of course, a season to be played.
"I can't even see that far right now," Vick said when asked about his future beyond this year. "I can only focus on what's happening today."
Contact Jeff McLane at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.