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The Eagles were smart to put an “exclusive” franchise tag on quarterback Michael Vick. Vick was even smarter to sign his franchise tender.

Under rules of the current collective bargaining agreement, which is set to expire at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, a player with the franchise tag is paid what the top five players at his position averaged the year before. In Vick’s case, that means a financial windfall for 2011.

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick plans to sign his one-year tender Wednesday. (AP Photo)

Vick, who made $5.25 million last year, will be paid an estimated $16 million—more than triple his old salary—in ’11. Not bad for a guy who just a couple of years ago was sitting in prison, not knowing whether he even had a future in football.

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Vick had the best season of his NFL career in 2010, even though he missed three games with injuries. After Kevin Kolb was injured in the first half of the season opener, Vick came on and eventually led the Eagles to a 10-6 record and the NFC East title. He set career highs in passing yards (3,018), touchdowns passing (21), touchdowns rushing (nine) and completion percentage (62.6). He made the Pro Bowl and was voted the Associated Press Comeback player of the Year.

Under terms of the “exclusive” franchise tag, Vick is prohibited from talking to other teams once free agency begins.

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