Mass exodus of Lovie Smith's assistants must wait until after general manager Phil Emery hires a new coach, according to a source who said the remaining assistants currently under contract haven't been given permission to seek opportunities elsewhere.
That means the staff is left to twist in uncertainty as Emery continues the search for a successor to Smith.
Such a dynamic isn't anything new. It's commonplace for a team firing a coach to want to retain key members of the staff. But it's also not guaranteed Chicago's new hire would want to bring back any of the coaches. By keeping the staff in place throughout the search, the Bears protect themselves in the event the new head coach experiences difficulty in putting together a group of assistants.
Given the team's success on defense over the years, and the pieces already in place in terms of personnel, the Bears would like to bring back defensive coordinator Rod Marinelli. One source close to the process said "the key" for any new coach "is to get Rod back; not because he's under contract, but because he wants to work for you."
Because of Marinelli's title as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach, the Bears can block him from interviewing with another team for any job that isn't a promotion.
The source said "Phil loves him," regarding Marinelli. But his friendship and history with Smith leaves some within the organization wondering whether Marinelli might resign, rather than work with a new head coach.
The Bears interviewed special teams coach Dave Toub on Monday in a Chicagoland hotel for the head-coaching vacancy, according to sources, and he's also an assistant the team might want to bring back if he's not handed the top job. But unlike Marinelli, Toub doesn't carry the assistant head coach title. So if a team in need of a special teams coordinator wanted to interview Toub, it might have to add the assistant head coaching position to prevent the Bears from blocking the interview.
Given Toub's pedigree, however, it's likely the new coach would exhaust maximum effort to try to retain the special-teams coordinator.
Offensive coordinator Mike Tice brings an interesting situation to this process. According to a source, "Phil respected him as an OL guy," which means the club would probably like to bring him back for 2013 in that capacity. It's unlikely however, that Tice would want to return as a position coach after spending 2012 as the offensive coordinator.
So while the uncertain fate of the assistants is commonplace for teams searching for new coaches, one -- the Jacksonville Jaguars -- did a solid for their assistants, rather than keep them in limbo. As the Jaguars search for a new general manager, who will also decide the fate of head coach Mike Mularkey, new owner Shad Khan gave the team's assistants permission to seek jobs elsewhere.
The Bears aren't callous for not doing the same. If anything, what they're doing is shrewd in a business that by nature is cold.