By Peter King, SI.com
Exiled Chicago defensive coordinator Ron Rivera didn't go long without a job Monday. A few hours after the Bears announced they would not bring Rivera back for the 2007 season, he hammered out a deal with the Chargers to become a defensive assistant on new head coach Norv Turner's staff.
Rivera likely will take over as San Diego's linebackers coach, replacing Greg Manusky, who left two weeks ago to become San Francisco's defensive coordinator. It's not certain if Rivera will be given added responsibilities, however, under new San Diego defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell. Those discussions were still taking place late Monday.
The flurry of coaching activity will likely culminate Tuesday when the Bears are expected to name assistant head coach/linebackers coach Bob Babich their defensive coordinator.
Word circulated Monday night that Rivera was out in part because he wanted more money than his $450,000 salary in 2006, and the Bears were unwilling to pay it. But SI.com learned money was never discussed between Rivera and the Bears. This was a philosophical decision by Chicago coach Lovie Smith, who reportedly felt more comfortable with Babich designing and calling the defensive gameplan than with Rivera.
Rivera, who has talked with eight different NFL teams about their head coaching positions over the last two seasons, had a three-year contract with the Bears that was set to expire next week.
Rivera was a linebacker on Chicago's Super Bowl champion team in 1986 and then led a defense that helped the Bears make the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. Chicago had trouble containing Indianapolis in the Super Bowl, losing 29-17 to the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts.
Rivera has been an assistant coach for 10 years in the NFL beginning as a quality control coach with the Bears in 1997. He spent five years with the Philadelphia Eagles as their linebackers coach and then the last three in charge of Chicago's defense.
The Bears led the NFL with 44 takeaways in the regular season, but the defense was slowed in the latter stages of the season after injuries to defensive tackle Tommie Harris and safety Mike Brown.
Rivera was a candidate last season for head coaching jobs in Green Bay and St. Louis. This year he talked with Pittsburgh, Miami, Atlanta and Arizona before the Bears started postseason play. After Chicago lost the Super Bowl, he interviewed for coaching vacancies at Dallas and just a few days ago at San Diego