FLOWERY BRANCH, Georgia (AP) - Michael Vick has agreed to pay the Atlanta Falcons $6.5 million as part of his bankruptcy case, clearing the way for the team to release him before training camp, a person familiar with the settlement said Tuesday.
The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the settlement was not being announced publicly, said the payment would go toward settling a bankruptcy claim by the team for salary paid to Vick while he was missing the last two seasons.
Vick pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges and is in the final months of a nearly two-year sentence. He was once the NFL's highest-paid player, signing a $130 million, 10-year deal with the Falcons in December 2004.
The settlement was reached ahead of Vick's bankruptcy hearing in Virginia on Thursday. It does not affect the Falcons' claim involving bonuses already paid to the quarterback.
An arbitrator ruled the team was owed $20 million, a federal judge reduced the award to $3.75 million and the team has appealed to the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A ruling is expected in June.
Once that issue is resolved, Vick is likely to be released by the Falcons. The team has pursued trade talks, but there appears to be little interest by the Falcons in the player who became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in a season.
He was due to receive a base salary of $9 million and a bonus of $6.43 million in 2009. The remainder of the contract was worth at least $45.11 million.
Vick hopes to resume his career with another team. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has said he will review quarterback's indefinite suspension after he is released from prison.
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."