Michael Vick To New England?

FOXBOROUGH -- Is Michael Vick a possibility in New England? Though Patriots head coach isn't saying so, his compliments of Vick's talent have been interpreted as leaving the door open.

QB Michael Vick told reporters after a bankruptcy hearing in Virginia that he is getting close to signing with a team, according to the Associated Press. "We're getting close," is all he said when asked if he was making progress on hooking on with a pro team.

Vick has been granted conditional reinstatement to the league by Commissioner Roger Goodell. Vick can sign with any NFL team and participate in preseason practices, workouts, meetings, and may play in his club's final two preseason games. However, he will not be allowed to play in any regular-season games until at least Week 6 as Goodell continues to monitor his progress in Vick's "transition plan." He will be able to in all team activities other than games.

Vick will continue to work with former Bucs and Colts coach Tony Dungy, who visited Vick in jail and has agreed to continue to mentor the quarterback.

"This step-by-step approach is not meant to be a further punishment and should not be viewed as such," Goodell wrote to Vick. "Instead, it is intended to maximize the prospect that you can successfully resume your career and your life. I believe that a transitional approach with a strong network of support will give you the best opportunity to manage effectively the various issues and pressures that you will inevitably face in the coming weeks and months and earn your full reinstatement."

In June, online oddsmakers pegged Vick's chances to sign with the Patriots at 3/1 odds with the Seattle Seahawks (home of Vick's head former coach Jim Mora, Jr.) at 10/1. Recent odds put Vick's chances of landing in New England more along the line of 4/1 with the the Raiders, Ravens and Redskins close behind.

On Thursday, Bill Belichick was asked about Vick's status.

"Michael is an outstanding player," Belichick said. "He hasn't played in a couple years, but right now our focus is on our team and our players, trying to get the New England Patriots ready."

Belichick wouldn't commit to the team's possible interest in Vick, which was no surprise. He did admit that Vick is a special talent. "He's a tremendous athlete. Where he exactly is right now, I don't know."

National reports this week have tied Vick to the Patriots. Though none have sources indicating the move is more than speculation, each report sees Vick as the perfect "Wildcat" player, giving the nod to Belichick as the type of personality who could temper the other issues surrounding Vick's character.

However the onus of Vicks' arrival, however close to a deal he thinks he is, rests on the decision of ownership. Vicks' dog fighting troubles have put him in the unenviable position of being public enemy No. 1 in the eyes of pet lovers and animal rights activists everywhere.

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