The Bears have set a deadline for their general manager hire: by Saturday, when, sources confirmed, the team will interview Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles for their vacant head coaching position.
The team wants to conduct the meeting with a GM in place, and the next 48 hours will prove critical in accomplishing that goal.
Titans vice president of player personnel Lake Dawson will interview with the Bears on Tuesday, with Chiefs director of pro personnel Chris Ballard scheduled for the following day, league sources said.
Ballard, who spent 12 years with the Bears before leaving for Kansas City in 2013, is considered by many to be the favorite for the job.
He turned down a chance to interview for the vacant Jets GM position, reports said Monday.
Dawson, a former Notre Dame star and NFL wide receiver, is respected in league circles, having worked with the Titans since 2007. His interview also satisfies the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires that teams interview minority candidates for every head coach and general manager opening.
The Bears are intrigued by the Bowles’ defensive background after watching their unit allow the most points in franchise history in 2013 and the second-most last season.
Bowles, who spent three games at the Dolphins’ interim head coach in 2011, has been the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator the past two seasons.
Only four teams allowed fewer than the Cardinals’ 18.7 points per game, a surprising season that ended with Saturday’s playoff loss to the Panthers.
The Bears will have company for Bowles’ services, though — they’re one of at least four teams with plans to interview the 51-year-old.
Chairman George McCaskey, president Ted Phillips and consultant Ernie Accorsi interviewed two coaching candidates — Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase and Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn — late last week.
League rules mandated their interviews came before Sunday. If the Bears want a second round with them, they’ll have to wait until the coaches’ teams lose in the playoffs or during the bye week before the Super Bowl, whichever comes first.