Eagles' Vick lures big names

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick takes the field to play the Green Bay Packers in their...

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick takes the field to play the Green Bay Packers in their NFC Wild Card NFL playoff football game in Philadelphia, January 9, 2011. (REUTERS/Tim Shaffer)

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, Last Updated: 2:10 PM ET

TORONTO - Taking a look at the NFL landscape following the end of the lockout is a reminder of just how much things can change in a matter of a week.

Once the NFL and the players union announced a deal was made and football ultimately was set to return, it opened up a free agency period of unheralded opportunities, as the market was flooded with top level talent usually available only in fantasy drafts.

Though it's been less than a week since teams were able to woo free agents, early indications are the Philadelphia Eagles have come away as the clear cut winners of the free agent frenzy.

The Eagles were able to assemble a cast of Pro Bowl defensive players, headlined by the off-season's most coveted asset, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, becoming the NFL's version of the Miami Heat in the process.

Along with the four-time Pro Bowler, Philadelphia was able to land defensive end Jason Babin and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins. Yet they didn't stop there, feeling some dissent was stemming from backup quarterback Kevin Kolb and looking to cash in on his brief 2010 campaign, Philly traded for cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in a deal that sent the 26-year-old to the Arizona Cardinals.

It's a set of moves that instantly catapulted the Eagles to the front of potential candidates to derail the Green Bay Packers as possible Super Bowl contenders. And why not, considering they just landed four Pro Bowlers on the defensive side of the ball surely will improve a defense that has shown signs of slipping over the past few seasons.

Last year, Philadelphia ranked behind all but two teams in allowing touchdowns through the air, with 31 on the season. It was the most passing touchdowns ever surrendered by an Eagles team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Look for that number to drop drastically with a secondary featuring three Pro Bowlers, as Asante Samuel will join his new teammates in terrorizing opponents' aerial attack.

Needing to fill the void left by Kolb, the Eagles decided to take a chance on quarterback Vince Young as a backup and seeing how their current quarterback came to be the starter, it's a road they're already familiar with.

When Michael Vick was released from prison after serving a sentence for his much maligned involvement in an organized dog fighting ring, it was believed his playing days were over and his once storied potential lay to waste in a federal prison cell. To think his two-year deal signed in August of 2009 with the Eagles would have kept the former Pro Bowler and MVP candidate in the City of Brotherly Love - let alone be the starter - two years later is a testament to what the change in scenery did for the troubled star and just how much can change over the course of time.

Dedicated to winning and improving his game was on full display last season when he was given the chance to play in place of the injured Kolb - a position he didn't give up until injuries of his own forced him to sit.

It is Vick's selfless approach for the betterment of the team that has surprised many observers more familiar with his antics in Atlanta that led to him being labeled selfish and lazy.

Now the Philly faithful may have Vick to thank for the influx of free agents who seem to have been heavily recruited by the 31-year-old throughout the Eagles courting process. Seeing how the franchise and the city embraced a character vilified more than any player in practically any sport in recent memory certainly boded well for unclaimed players to consider calling Philadelphia home.

Even as the organization brought in a player who possibly has the tools to be Vicks successor, the feeling from the seven-year veteran wasn't one of concern for his job but more so jubilance for Young to be given the opportunity to revive his career under his tutelage.

While the off-season negotiations between the Eagles and star receiver DeSean Jackson are at an impasse, at the forefront of the situation is Vick, who has maintained throughout the week he expects Jackson to return, citing conversations he's had with the wideout trying to convince the 24-year-old he's the catalyst for the team to be successful on offense.

With expectations to run undoubtedly high, Philadelphia will have its Pro Bowl cast to prove the near $25 million it shelled out per year for its superstar ensemble can breed success.

Yet as big as the signees are, Vick's commitment to triumph lured the acclaimed athletes to join the cause to return the franchise to the Super Bowl for the first time since 2004 and suddenly has him looking like a messiah more than a pariah.


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