FLOWERY BRANCH — Michael Vick has agreed to pay the Atlanta Falcons at least $6.5 million as part of his bankruptcy case, clearing the way for the team to release him before training camp.
The settlement was reached ahead of Vick's bankruptcy hearing in Virginia on Thursday. The suspended quarterback arrived in his home state Monday afternoon and was being held at Western Tidewater Regional Jail in Suffolk, Va.
According to a bankruptcy court filing, the Falcons have settled their claim that Vick owed them nearly $21.2 million for bonuses he received before his guilty plea to federal dogfighting charges.
After an arbitrator sided with the team, the players union took the case to federal court. A U.S. district judge reduced the amount to $3.75 million, and the case remains on appeal.
"To resolve uncertainty over the amount of the Falcons' claim, the parties have determined that the Falcons will receive an allowed general unsecured claim in the debtor's bankruptcy case in the amount of $7.5 million," said the filing, which was entered last week. "If the district court's ruling is ultimately affirmed on appeal, the amount of the Falcons' claim will be reduced to $6.5 million."
Vick's bankruptcy lawyers, Peter Ginsberg and Paul Campsen, did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.
The suspended NFL star was being held in a general population block at the Suffolk jail but had limited contact with other inmates, said Lt. Tanya Scott, the facility's spokeswoman. She said one of Vick's attorneys met with him Tuesday, but he'd had no other visitors.
A bankruptcy judge in Newport News ordered Vick to testify in person at his hearing. He was required to pay the costs of his transfer from the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., where he's been serving a 23-month sentence for his role in a gruesome dogfighting ring.
Vick has been approved for transfer to home confinement no sooner than May 21, about two months before his scheduled release from federal custody. After that, he hopes to resume his NFL career.
It won't be in Atlanta.
A person familiar with the Falcons' claims, speaking on condition of anonymity because the settlement had not been announced publicly, said it should clear the way for Vick to be released this summer if he's not traded.
Vick was once the NFL's highest-paid player, agreeing to a $130 million, 10-year deal with the Falcons in December 2004. After he went to prison, the team filed a claim to recover bonuses he had earned from 2004 through 2007.
A court-appointed expert said the team should be repaid for roster bonuses Vick received, but U.S. District Judge David Doty ruled the team could only recover the signing bonuses, significantly reducing the amount.
The team has appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A ruling is expected in June, but it will merely set the final amount that Vick must pay the Falcons — $6.5 million or $7.5 million — while also establishing precedence for future cases.
Once that issue is resolved, Atlanta can formally cut ties with Vick. The Falcons have pursued trade talks, but no team has publicly expressed interest in the first NFL quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
Vick hopes to resume his pro football career, with a large portion of his earnings going to resolve his bankruptcy case. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he will review quarterback's indefinite suspension after he is released from prison.
Even if another team is willing to sign Vick, he will surely take a huge pay cut from his previous deal. He was due to receive a base salary of $9 million and a bonus of $6.43 million from the Falcons in 2009. The remainder of his Atlanta contract was worth at least $45.11 million.
While Vick is still technically part of the team, the Falcons moved on a year ago when they drafted Matt Ryan with the No. 3 overall pick. He had a stellar debut season, leading Atlanta to an 11-5 record and an unexpected spot in the playoffs while earning The Associated Press offensive rookie of the year award.
The team had no comment on the settlement, though everyone in the organization looks forward to dealing with no more questions about Vick.
"I'm pretty much sure it's behind us now," running back Michael Turner said. "It's over."