The Glazer family is in the process of finalizing a contract with Lovie Smith to become the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as first reported by Jay Glazer of FOX Sports.
The two sides spent Wednesday working out a deal with a formal announcement expected as early as Thursday.
It is a reported four-year deal with a fifth-year option. Exact terms of the agreement have not been made available, although sources told ESPN that the contract would be in excess of $5 million per year.
On Monday, the Buccaneers parted ways with head coach Greg Schiano and G.M. Mark Dominik, with Smith immediately emerging as the front-runner for the job. In fact, he interviewed with the team the very next day.
Smith previously spent nine seasons with the Chicago Bears, 63 record and finishing at or above .500 six times, including three NFC North divisional titles.
During the 2006 season, just his third as head coach, Smith took the Bears all the way to Super Bowl XLI, where they lost to the Indianapolis Colts, 29-17.
Despite cultivating one of the most revered defenses in the NFL, Smith was unable to get the Bears ‘over the hump’ and win a championship. He drew criticism for his team’s lack of offensive firepower and was fired after a 10-6 season in 2012.
Smith’s coaching career in the NFL began in Tampa Bay when Tony Dungy hired him in 1996 as the linebackers coach, where he helped guide Derrick Brooks, Hardy Nickerson and Shelton Quarles, developing these critical components of the Tampa 2 defense.
Speaking of Brooks, he provided a glowing endorsement of Smith on Twitter.
As did Nickerson, who not only played under Smith but also served as his linebackers coach in Chicago.
So did Dungy.
One of Smith’s star pupils in Chicago, Lance Briggs, offered his support as well.
Smith worked in Tampa Bay until 2001, before departing to become St. Louis’ defensive coordinator under Mike Martz.
He has been considered one of, if not the most, highly-sought NFL head coaching candidates due to his track record, defensive expertise, his values and ability to relate to players, combining a rare mix of love and discipline that the organization has missed in recent years.
Of course, a crucial component of the hire will be Smith’s offensive coordinator. Multiple outlets are reporting that former Cal head coach Jeff Tedford is expected to be named offensive coordinator.
Recently-fired Minnesota Vikings head coach Leslie Frazier is considered a possibility for defensive coordinator. There has also been talk of Rod Marinelli, a former Bucs assistant, joining Smith. Marinelli is currently under contract as defensive line coach for the Dallas Cowboys, but a promotion to a defensive coordinator position could essentially allow him to leave.