Understand that a plea agreement carries with it a plea of GUILTY for a lesser charge than listed in the indictment, but it is still a declaration of GUILT!
Inasmuch, Vick has a lot more to lose than his co-defendants, his attorneys have more variables to consider before having him plead guilty to anything. As the recipient of a $130 million contract from the Atlanta Falcons, with a sizable signing bonus, if he is released by the Falcons, he may be liable for paying back a sizable portion of that bonus. If he is suspended by the commissioner of the NFL (which will happen whether he goes with a plea deal or if he goes to trial), he will not get paid. And if he his plea agreement carries jail time, he will be banned from the NFL (per the personal conduct clause of his contract) and will have to apply for reinstatement into the NFL after he gets out of prison.
If he does not negotiate a plea deal, prosecutors have stated that they will issue a superseding indictment which will likely carry more severe charges. These charges may include RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970) statute violations which carry stiff punishments of up to 20 years in prison.
plez sez: let's see (counting furiously on my fingers), 1 year in prison with a plea deal and out after 6 months for good behavior, or 10 years in prison after a conviction on the RICO statutes and out in 6 years for good behavior? millions of dollars in NFL fines and payback of the signing bonus, regardless of your decision. all 3 co-defendants have already copped a plea and are ready to roll on you... so a conviction on at least some of the charges is all but guaranteed!
MIKE... take the plea agreement! with even 2 years of prison time, you're out in a year with good behavior and you'll only miss 2 NFL seasons (if the league lets you back in after next season). you persona non grata here in Atlanta anyway, so you'll have to find a new football home... you will get the chance for a new start in the NFL.
in two seasons, you will have lost another step, but i believe you still have a lot of "excitement" left in those legs. and given the right situation, you may find yourself in the Super Bowl before the Falcons!
author's note: i'm about as tired of this Michael Vick *ish* as you. as such, this'll probably be my last word on the subject until he (1) beats the rap, (2) goes to jail, or (3) returns to the NFL.
unfortunately, the Dirty Birds won't be quite as dirty without him (the Atlanta Curse continues...)!