Vic Fangio returns as Bears defensive coordinator

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Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. (AP)

At the end of his first week, new Bears head coach Matt Nagy logged his biggest win  – defensive coordinator Vic Fangio is returning.

He’s expected to remain one of the highest-paid coordinators — if not the highest — in the NFL. ESPN reported Fangio received a three-year deal.

Fangio became a free agent Tuesday after declining a contract extension last offseason. Nagy and general manager Ryan Pace set about recruiting him to return within hours of the former’s hiring. The odds improved late Tuesday, when two vacancies around the league were filled: the Chargers re-signed coordinator Gus Bradley and the Packers reportedly agreed to terms with Mike Pettine.

Fangio was one of six candidates the Bears interviewed for their head coaching vacancy. It marked only the third such interview in his 31-year NFL career.

The Bears finished the season 10th with 319.1 yards allowed per game and ninth with 20 points allowed per game.

With Nagy calling the plays on offense, Fangio’s defensive knowledge becomes that much more important. How much of Fangio’s staff remains with him is another question, but it’s telling that the only three Bears coaches to leave for new jobs have been on offense.

In his introductory press conference, Nagy said he and Fangio had spoken about retaining him. Pace said the Bears would let the situation “play out,” but it was clear both men were anxious for a resolution.

The news figures to be well-received by Bears players, who lobbied for him to stay.

“I’m hoping that he’s back,” defensive end Akiem Hicks said last month. “I gotta tell you, it’s no easy thing to install an entirely different defense. And then when you like the guy and you like how he puts things together during the week, I want him back. I’d love to be under him for the rest of my career.”

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