Dolphins, Vic Fangio Part Ways; Eagles Deal Finalized

JANUARY 27: The Eagles have made the official announcement, marking Fangio as the team’s new defensive coordinator following the departure of Desai. Fangio will be tasked with leading a defensive unit that stumbled down the stretch in what started as a promising 2023 season. He may be forced to do it with some younger faces, as well, as some key veterans (defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Brandon Graham, linebacker Shaquille Leonard) are facing free agency in the offseason.

JANUARY 25: Fangio is headed to Philadelphia today to finalize his defensive coordinator agreement, Schefter reports. As a result, the Eagles have one of their two coordinator vacancies filled after moving on from OC Brian Johnson. Philadelphia’s defense will be a unit to follow closely in the offseason and into the 2024 campaign.

JANUARY 24: A hotly contested Vic Fangio pursuit developed during the 2023 offseason, with an element of controversy comprising part of it. The Dolphins won out, but the parties’ union will be short-lived. The team announced Wednesday that Fangio will not return as DC.

Describing this as a mutual decision, the Dolphins are moving on from a coach whom they agreed to pay more than $4.5MM per season. Fangio had been closely tied to the Eagles’ DC job in 2023, after serving as a consultant for the team. He alluded to the Jonathan Gannon situation helping lead him out of Philly. With Fangio available again, teams will naturally be interested in the experienced defensive coach.

The Eagles are not planning to sit this one out, with’s Jeremy Fowler and Adam Schefter reporting a deal for Fangio to return to Philly is expected. CBS Sports’ Josina Anderson also indicates the Eagles expect Fangio to return and be their next DC.

The Dolphins are letting Fangio leave to allow him to be closer to his family, per ESPN. Fangio, 65, is a Pennsylvania native and sits as the top target for the Eagles’ DC job. The Eagles will still need to interview at least one external minority candidate to comply with the Rooney Rule, but it appears they have a clear preference as they look to replace Sean Desai.

Mike McDaniel will now be on his third DC in three years, moving from Josh Boyer to Fangio after the 2022 season. The Dolphins shelled out a deal that made Fangio the NFL’s highest-paid DC last year. Fangio had wanted to stay with the Eagles, but with the team expecting Gannon to remain in place for a third season, he left for Miami. It does not appear that proved to be a good fit, and the well-traveled coach is on track to step in as a savior of sorts for an Eagles team that completed a chaotic defensive season.

Demoting ex-Fangio lieutenant Desai for Matt Patricia late in the season, the Eagles lost six of their final seven games — including a one-sided wild-card game in Tampa. Patricia is expected to head elsewhere, perhaps rejoining Bill Belichick if the latter lands a head coaching job, but the Eagles will receive the good fortune of Fangio becoming available again. The Eagles have already interviewed Ron Rivera virtually, but it seems fairly clear Fangio is the favorite. Following Gannon’s departure for Arizona — which drew a tampering penalty from the NFL — the Philly defense cratered, finishing 29th in DVOA.

Fangio drew interest from a few places after not taking a job to start the 2022 season. The Falcons and Panthers interviewed the ex-Broncos HC, and the 49ers expressed interest in reuniting with him. Fangio also came up in Denver, as Sean Payton took over, but deemed the timing wrong. The Dolphins’ defense featured some of the same poor injury luck Fangio experienced in Denver, as his playoff unit lacked numerous starters — including edge anchors Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb — after missing Jalen Ramsey for half the season. The Dolphins held their own in the red zone in frigid Kansas City, but Miami’s offense crumbled in a one-sided matchup.

An NFL assistant since helming the Saints’ famed “Dome Patrol” linebacking corps in the 1980s and early ’90s, Fangio has received rave reviews for his work in Chicago and San Francisco. The Bears gig, which featured the team’s 2018 unit leading the league, led to the Broncos hiring him as head coach in 2019. Fangio was in place under Jim Harbaugh, helping the 49ers to three straight NFC title games from 2011-13.

Miami’s 2023 defense ranked 19th in DVOA; multiple names have already surfaced for the newly vacant job. Brandon Staley is expected to be a candidate,’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Dolphins linebackers coach Anthony Campanile has generated good reviews around the league, per’s Cameron Wolfe. Campanile is also on the Giants’ DC radar.

Staley, of course, is coming off an in-season firing as Chargers HC. Staley’s Bolts defenses underwhelmed throughout his tenure, but he would make for a natural transition in Miami, having been a Fangio charge in Chicago and Denver. Staley became a promising HC candidate after spending the 2020 season as the Rams’ DC. He has yet to interview for an HC or DC job this offseason. The former Chargers leader shares an agent with McDaniel, Dianna Russini of The Athletic tweets.

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