Falcons' release makes Vick free agent

The Atlanta Falcons released suspended quarterback Michael Vick on Friday, officially a rollercoaster eight-year relationship.

The Atlanta Falcons released suspended quarterback Michael Vick on Friday, officially ending a rollercoaster eight-year relationship.

Vick, who turns 29 later this month, is nearing the end of a two-year sentence for conspiracy in connection with a dogfighting ring run in part from his property.

"Michael remains suspended by the NFL," said Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "However, in the event NFL commissioner Roger Goodell decides to reinstate Michael, we feel his best opportunity to re-engage his football career would be at another club."

Dimitroff admitted the club had held on to the rights of Vick in the event any other teams were willing to trade for the player this offseason. A signing bonus from Vick's last contract of slightly more than $7 million US will count against Atlanta's salary cap this season.

The quarterback played six seasons for Atlanta after being selected by the club first overall in the 2001 draft, leading the team to the NFC conference championship game in 2003. He's thrown for 71 touchdowns and 11,505 yards, with 52 interceptions.

In his last full season in 2006, he set an NFL season record for a quarterback with 11, 505 yards.

Vick is serving the last few weeks of his sentence at his Virginia home and working as a construction labourer. He will be on probation for years after serving his term.

It is expected at some point after the sentence ends that he will meet with Goodell, who will determine when his suspension from the league will expire.

Vick is also in entangled in a financial mess. He has been given a July 2 deadline to submit a new plan to pay a raft of creditors, after a first attempt was rejected in court. 

With files from The Associated Press