The Bears just may have their cake and eat it too.
Vic Fangio, the team's highly regarded defensive coordinator each of the past three seasons whose contract expired Tuesday, is likely to return in the same role under new coach Matt Nagy, NFL Media's Ian Rapoport tweeted Tuesday night.
Fangio was considered a strong candidate to replace Dom Capers in Green Bay, but the Packers are hiring former Browns head coach Mike Pettine, according to Adam Schefter. Another potential landing spot for Fangio — the Los Angeles Chargers — are bringing back coordinators Gus Bradley and Ken Whisenhunt.
As the DC vacancies quickly fill, it appears Fangio may opt to return to the defense that he's turned into a top-10 unit — a far cry from the one that ranked 31st in yards and 30th in scoring when he and John Fox took over in 2015.
Fangio was the first of six men to interview with GM Ryan Pace to replace Fox, who was fired last Monday following a 14-34 mark. But it was considered by many to be merely a token interview with Pace honed in on finding a young offensive mind to pair with No. 2 overall pick Mitch Trubisky.
Well, Pace landed his innovative head coach with an offensive background in Nagy, the 39-year-old former Chiefs coordinator who'll lead a franchise for the first time. And it now appears Nagy's chances of retaining Fangio — with whom he said Tuesday he remained in contact — have improved.
"We all are aware of that situation, and that’s a very important hire for me," Nagy said Tuesday. But there’s a lot of things that go into that decision, and Vic and I have talked, we understand that. We understand the situation. But that’s something were gonna attack here after we get going here with today. Were gonna attack that full steam ahead and we're gonna make a clear decision about what’s best for Vic and what’s best for this organization."
There's little question maintaining continuity with Fangio, who oversaw the first Bears defense to finish in the top 10 in yards and points allowed since Lovie Smith's final year in 2012, would be the best outcome for the Bears.
It would also have similarities to Coach of the Year favorite Sean McVay's first moves upon taking the Rams job last January. The youngest head coach ever, McVay was hired due to his offensive acumen, not necessarily an overflowing Rolodex with NFL contacts at just the age of 30. But he opted to retain special teams coordinator John Fassel, whose unit placed its kicker, punter and return specialist on the All-Pro team this past season.
McVay, perhaps fortuitously, was also able to hire Wade Phillips, let go ill-advisedly by Broncos football czar John Elway after the hiring of Vance Joseph. Phillips, like Fangio, is one of the game's most universally respected defensive minds but wasn't expected to be available for a rookie head coach to bring on board.