Vic Fangio’s venture into free agency could end right where it started.
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweets it’s likely that the Chicago Bears will retain their defensive coordinator. Even though Rapoport cautions there is still work to be done on an agreement, it looks like Fangio will return to Chicago after a pair of high profile defensive coordinator positions were filled on Tuesday. Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune adds a deal could be agreed upon as early as Wednesday.
This would be encouraging news for Matt Nagy on his first day in his role as head coach, as Fangio could provide strong leadership on the defensive side of the ball to keep stability among a top-10 unit. If Fangio comes back to Chicago, he would have full control over a defense for the first time since serving as Jim Harbaugh’s defensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers from 2011 to 2014.
Earlier, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported the Green Bay Packers were readying themselves to hire Mike Pettine to replace Dom Capers as their defensive coordinator. Pettine has five years of experience as a defensive coordinator at the NFL level and two years experience as the Cleveland Browns’ head coach. He is a highly respected defensive mind who is expected to bring the Packers defense back to a level of respectability.
Green Bay was believed to have Fangio high on its list of favorites once he hit free agency, but word of an official interview never came down. The Packers were scheduled to interview Pettine on Tuesday, per Schefter.
Gus Bradley was believed to be a potential fall-back plan for the Bears if Fangio took his talents to Green Bay or elsewhere. As it turns out, the Los Angeles Chargers’ defensive coordinator won’t be going anywhere:
Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley and Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt will both return in 2018. ⚡⚡ pic.twitter.com/kW6iHmDu5c
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) January 10, 2018
Bradley engineered one of the league’s best defenses one year after being fired as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ head coach. Los Angeles’ AFC team was arguably the best to not make the postseason and there are building blocks in place for another playoff push in 2018.
This leaves Fangio as a free agent with opportunities elsewhere closing.
There are still four head-coaching opportunities available, but Fangio has yet to take an interview with anyone but the Bears. The Indianapolis Colts, Detroit Lions, Arizona Cardinals, and New York Giants have yet to hire a coach. In theory, each of these teams could interview Fangio for the open head coach position or in a role as a defensive coordinator.
The likelihood of landing a head-coaching gig at the point of the offseason (after receiving just one request for a head coach interview) seems slim.
It also feels unlikely Fangio would jump on board with a team that hires a young, defensive-leaning head coach. That could put the Lions (who seem to be close to reeling in Patriots DC Matt Patricia) and Giants (who interviewed Panthers DC Steve Wilks today) out of the equation. If a Pat Shurmur-Case Keenum package deal is ultimately created, Fangio could join the Vikings’ offensive coordinator with a team like the Cardinals which needs to fill both those positions. The Colts could go in any number of directions, including with Patriots OC Josh McDaniels, who could find himself intrigued by having a strong coordinator running his defense.
Fangio’s future is still fuzzy at this point, but it’s possible the Bears’ new defensive coordinator will be the same as the old one. Certainly, that would be just fine with the new head coach.