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Bears ask to interview Todd Bowles for head-coach position

Todd Bowles could have been the Bears’ defensive coordinator three years ago. Now he’ll have a chance to be head coach.

Todd Bowles (right) might replace Matt Nagy (left).
Matt Nagy greets Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, a lifelong friend.
Kamil Krzaczynski/AP

Todd Bowles could have been the Bears’ defensive coordinator three years ago. Now, he’ll have a chance to be head coach.

The Bears put in a request to interview the Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator for their head coaching vacancy, a source confirmed Tuesday morning. Bowles has already interviewed for the Jaguars’ opening.

The Bears have also reportedly requested interviews with Bowles’ offensive counterpart in Tampa Bay, Byron Leftwich, and Bills coordinators Brian Daboll and Leslie Frazier. In the case of all four men, the Bears have to wait until their playoff game is completed this weekend to conduct the interview.

That is not the case with former Dolphins head coach Brian Flores, whom NFL Network said has already received a Bears request. Flores might be the most intriguing name on the market after his surprise firing Monday. He went 24-25 in three seasons — including a 6-10 record in 2019 when many projected the fire-sale Dolphins to win half as many games.

Bowles is the highest-paid defensive coordinator in the sport after having signed a three-year deal worth at least $3 million per season in August.

When Vic Fangio left the Bears to take over the Broncos in early 2019, then-coach Matt Nagy was interested in replacing him with Bowles, a friend who once played for his father in high school. Bucs coach Bruce Arians had the same idea, though — the two were tight and worked together when Arians was the Cardinals head coach.

Bowles picked the Bucs. Wisely so — they won the Super Bowl last year when Bowles’ defense held Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to nine points.

The Bucs beat the Bears 38-3 earlier this season. Before the game, Nagy said that “the amount of respect that I have for Todd Bowles as a defensive coordinator and what he does is real.” After the Bucs defense battered Justin Fields, Arians said that “Todd loves seeing rookie quarterbacks.”

Bowles has the leadership experience the Bears covet; he was the Jets head coach from 2015-18.

Monday, Bears chairman George McCaskey said the team is likely to hire a general manager before a coach. The Bears will cast a wide net in their GM search — It’s unclear if they’ll have one in place before they conduct their first head coach interview.