While it remains desirable and likely that the Chicago Bears will bring back Vic Fangio to run the defense heading into next season, the two sides have yet to come to an agreement.
That doesn’t mean they’re not working on it:
Bears GM Ryan Pace about Vic Fangio's status with the organization just now on Bears All Access on @670TheScore: "Matt has been in communication with Vic. It's just a process. That's kind of going on as we speak."
— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) January 11, 2018
Even though the Bears passed on promoting Fangio to the head coach position, the team has remained interested in keeping its defensive leader in the fold. Working in the Bears favor is that every high profile defensive coordinator opening entering the offseason has been filled. Even the Green Bay Packers, who were pegged as a logical choice to poach the Bears’ DC to replace Dom Capers, ultimately went in a different direction by hiring Mike Pettine.
Perhaps Fangio’s price tag led to the Packers (and possibly others) to shy away from hiring away the highly-respected coordinator. It is believed that Fangio earned $2 million in 2017, and was the second-highest-paid coordinator in the NFL.
For Head Coach Matt Nagy, it is imperative to maintain some kind of continuity on defense, the one facet of the game in which the team excelled all season. (Despite the linebacking corps being ravaged by injury right from the get-go.)
But if the Bears are unable to retain Fangio, they could already be working on a backup plan:
Hearing the #Bears would like to talk to Cardinals defensive coordinator James Bettcher about a role in Chicago.
— Mike Jurecki (@mikejurecki) January 10, 2018
James Bettcher interviewed for the Cardinals head coaching gig after Bruce Arians retired. While it would be ideal to team a young offensive-leaning head coach with an experienced defensive coordinator, adding an up-and-coming defensive mind like a Bettcher wouldn’t be the worst hire.
Bettcher, 39, has coached in the NFL since 2012, has been with Arizona since 2013, and was promoted to defensive coordinator in 2015. Arizona was middle-of-the-pack in points per game allowed in 2017, but they were sixth in yards allowed per game – the third straight season they were in the top six in that category under Bettcher.
The Bears’ defensive coordinator position should be viewed as an attractive one. Chicago finished in the top 10 in scoring defense and total yards, marking a major turnaround engineered by Fangio. And with a ton of cap flexibility to fall back on, the Bears will be in a position to add (and/or keep) significant pieces.