Bears head coach Lovie Smith is making long-term plans for the future of the team and one of the plans could surprise many Bears fans.
FOXSports.com has learned that Chicago has decided to not renew the contract of defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. Team sources say that Smith and Rivera met recently and agreed to allow Rivera to pursue other opportunities. The sources also contend that Smith will likely end up promoting Bob Babich from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator.
People inside the Bears saw this coming for a while as Babich has been reached out to from a handful of teams in the last two off-seasons and Smith, who unlike many other coaches does not block his assistants from moving up, did not want to lose him. Thus, the head coach had a tough decision to make and promoting Babich was his choice.
Babich is also viewed as more of a long-term option for Smith as Rivera was in the running for several head coaching jobs this off-season and last year. To this point, however, he has failed to land one. He did not sign an extension last off-season, which allowed him to be a free agent after the Bears' Super Bowl run. Most teams figured he'd get one of the vacant head coaching openings and as a result has been left out in the cold.
As for a defensive coordinator opening, there's only one open right now and that is Ted Cottrell's for the taking in San Diego. Still, now that Rivera is officially free another team may decide to make a run at a man who helped guide a unit to this year's prized game.
Rivera has been with Smith since he took over the head coaching duties in Chicago.