Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is rumored to be THISCLOSE to a plea deal with prosecutors in his federal illegal dogfighting case. Vick has been told the evidence is stacked against him and the only way he can get off is if he is found not guilty. Facing a minimum of 6 years in prison, Vick is said to be close to a deal where he will take a knee and plead guilty. That will still cost him 12 to 16 months in the slammer.
His illegal gambling charges, however, could likely get him banned for life from the NFL.
The 27-year-old Vick says he wants to play football again but even if he can put the dogfighting behind him, the gambling charges will take some legal finessing to save his career.
The NFL prohibits any association with gamblers or with gambling activities of any kind. Such involvement may result in severe penalties, including "a suspension from the NFL for life," according to the league's stated gambling policy.
The Falcons signed Vick to a 10-year, $130 million contract in December 2004, including $37 million in guaranteed bonuses, the richest contract in NFL history at the time. By contrast, Super Bowl QB and MVP Peyton Manning got a 7-year, $98 million deal in March 2004. Even if they release him, the Falcons team faces an estimated salary cap hit of about $6 million this year and $15 million in 2008 because of Vick's generous contract.
Vick's two other co-defendants are set to appear in federal court in Richmond, Va., this week regarding plea agreements in exchange for testimony against Vick, who they say financed the gambling purses for the dog fights. The indictment said purses climbed as high as $20,000 for fights.