Michael Vick's release from prison Tuesday is going to give rise to two debates. First up is the question of his reinstatement to the NFL, with the potential of ancillary league suspension for his dogfighting activities. Commissioner Roger Goodell has said only that Vick needs to show remorse for his actions, but has been vague about what exactly would qualify as an appropriate level.
If the answer to that issue is that Vick is welcomed back into the NFL, the next question becomes where he might play next. With two years of rust built on a resume that wasn't exactly glowing in terms of quarterbacking skills, Vick will not have an easy time finding a team that's willing to give him a shot under center. That said, three teams come to mind.
Buffalo Bills: This one comes with the caveat that Vick can't be suspended for any portion of this season. By signing Terrell Owens, the Bills have made a big bet on this season and it isn't a bet with any shelf life, because Owens will either be gone or destroying the team from within by this time next season. Trent Edwards hasn't proven himself as a NFL quarterback, and the Bills have plans to go with a no-huddle, spread offense at times this season. If the idea is keeping defenses off balance, Vick's footspeed plays right into that. Frankly, the team's whole offseason has seemed desperate enough to give this a shot, even though they've said Vick isn't an option.
San Francisco 49ers: With the Jets and Lions addressing their needs in the draft, there's no team in the NFL with a bigger hole at quarterback than the Niners. That means a lot of running, and Vick's most logical immediate use would be as a running quarterback out of specific formations. Mike Singletary seems like the kind of tough guy who would be unafraid of taking on Vick, but also has been around the block enough times to have seen other reclamation projects work out for the best. The team has faced the Vick question and issued some lukewarm denials of interest, but they've left enough wiggle room to go the other direction.
St. Louis Rams: The best fit in the NFL for Vick is the Rams. They have a new coach, have been terrible in recent years and Marc Bulger isn't long for the franchise. He's still good enough to start, though, and Vick could play in packages that highlight his running while working toward being an option as the regular quarterback in 2010 and beyond. They also play on turf, which makes Vick's speed that much more dangerous when he's running out of the backfield. The team has employed Leonard Little for more than 10 years, so they've got no problem with criminal behavior, and has a little to lose as any NFL team considering Vick.
Other options have been bandied about with the Seahawks and the Patriots coming up fairly often. Jim Mora was fired, in part, because of Vick in Atlanta and it's unlikely he'd go down that road a second time in Seattle, while Pats owner Robert Kraft seems a bit too image-conscious to add a player like Vick. Call them a dark horse, though, just because Bill Belichick always seems to be a step ahead of the rest of the NFL.