Former Bears coach accepts three-year deal

Courted by at least three franchises in need of a defensive coordinator, former Chicago Bears coach Dick Jauron agreed Sunday to take on that role in Detroit.

Jauron, 53, agreed to a three-year contract worth about $1 million annually. He replaces Kurt Schottenheimer, whose unit ranked 24th statistically this season. Schottenheimer is to remain on the Lions staff.

Highly respected around the league, Jauron declined opportunities from the St. Louis Rams and the New York Giants. Most league observers believed Jauron was a sure bet to join the Rams' staff. He met Friday with coach Mike Martz; the position opened when Lovie Smith took Jauron's old job as Bears coach.

Jauron also interviewed for the Buffalo Bills head coach opening early this month. He had been contacted by, but did not interview with, at least two other teams who needed to hire a defensive coordinator.

In five seasons as the Chicago head coach, Jauron compiled a 35-46 record. He led the team to a 13-3 mark in 2001, and its first division title since 1990, but the Bears won just 11 games total in the two ensuing seasons. He was fired by the Bears on Dec. 29.

Jauron has a strong background on the defensive side, having served as secondary coach in Green Bay for nine seasons (1986-94) before being named coordinator in Jacksonville in 1995, a position he held until moving on to Chicago in 1999.

During Jauron's time in Green Bay, Lions coach Steve Mariucci also was on the Packers staff and he and Jauron have remained close friends.

Drafted in 1973, Jauron led Detroit with 17
kickoff returns for 405 yards in his rookie season. He was released by the Lions in 1978 and then spent three seasons in Cincinnati before a knee injury ended his career.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.