Job 1 for new Bears coach Matt Nagy is persuading Vic Fangio to stay as DC
Acting quickly to hire Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy as their new coach came with a dual purpose for the Bears — to sign him before another team did and to give him a chance to persuade Vic Fangio to stay on as defensive coordinator.
Fangio’s future immediately became the focus once the Bears suddenly hired Nagy on Monday. Fangio’s contract with the Bears expires Tuesday, which means he would be eligible to sign with any NFL team. Sources indicate the Bears want him back, but it’s up to Nagy to close the deal.
Hiring Nagy to develop quarterback Mitch Trubisky and retaining Fangio to continue his work with an improving defense that ranked ninth in the league in points allowed this season arguably would be a best-case scenario — at least on paper — for the Bears after firing John Fox.
Notably, while offensive coaches under Fox have signed elsewhere — offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and offensive line coach Jeremiah Washburn with the Dolphins and running backs coach Curtis Modkins with the Broncos — no defensive coaches have left yet.
Fangio declined a contract extension before this season to leave his options open and might not have returned even if Fox hadn’t been fired. The Packers are considered a possible destination after they fired longtime coordinator Dom Capers.
But even after the Bengals hired Lions defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to the same position, there are still opportunities with the Lions, Giants, Cardinals and Colts, plus anyone else who wants to make room for a coordinator as accomplished as Fangio.
But Fangio, who doesn’t stand on ceremony, expressed an interest in staying with the Bears when asked about it last month.
‘‘Definitely interested in that,’’ he said.
In particular, he said he enjoyed working with this group of players.
‘‘They’re really a good bunch of guys,’’ Fangio said. ‘‘My favorite part of the day is getting up in front of them and watching tape with them or putting in the defenses for the week. I really enjoy being around these guys.’’
The Bears haven’t had a defensive player make the Pro Bowl in the last four seasons, but they had several players take a step toward that recognition under Fangio, including defensive end Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller, nose tackle Eddie Goldman, linebackers Leonard Floyd and Danny Trevathan and safety Eddie Jackson.
Fuller is a free agent who has expressed an interest in returning. Having Fangio back figures to be a lure. But everybody might have something at stake in this situation, particularly Hicks.
‘‘That would suck,’’ Hicks said when asked last month about the possibility of Fangio’s departure. ‘‘Him putting me in this defense and really allowing me to use my skills for the benefit of the team is just awesome for me because I get a chance to show what I’m capable of.’’
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