GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers are planning to hire Joe Barry as defensive coordinator, a source told ESPN on Saturday.
Coach Matt LaFleur had narrowed his list of finalists to include Barry and University of Wisconsin defensive coordinator Jim Leonhard. Barry was hired shortly after Leonhard turned down the job, a source said, but it was possible others made the final cut.
The team did not make a formal announcement because the deal has not be signed yet, a source said. The deal is expected to be finalized this weekend.
Barry, 50, replaces Mike Pettine, who was not retained after his contract expired following this season.
Barry and LaFleur worked together during their overlapping time with the Los Angeles Rams, where LaFleur coached quarterbacks in 2017 and Barry had been the assistant head coach/linebackers coach from 2017-2020.
Barry had recently gone to the Los Angeles Chargers as linebackers coach and defensive passing game coordinator under new Chargers coach Brandon Staley, who was the Rams' defensive coordinator this past season.
This will be Barry's third turn as an NFL defensive coordinator, having held that job with in Detroit (2007-08) and Washington (2015-16). The high-energy Barry is known for preferring an aggressive style of defense, although he didn't always have the personnel to do that in either Detroit or Washington, where those defenses ranked between 28th and 32nd in the league based on yards allowed during his tenures. Washington was 17th and 18th in points allowed under Barry as coordinator.
He will have more talent to work with in Green Bay, where the defense includes two second-team All-Pros in cornerback Jaire Alexander and outside linebacker Za'Darius Smith, plus one of the league's top defensive tackles in Kenny Clark.
Pettine got the Packers back into the top 10 in overall defense; they ranked ninth during the 2020 season, but the season ended in part because of a defensive breakdown that allowed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to score a last-second touchdown at the end of the first half.
LaFleur questioned the play call after the game, saying the man coverage they played was "definitely not the right call for the situation." LaFleur later called it a "flat-out miscommunication and ultimately, anytime something like that occurs, that 100 percent falls squarely on my shoulders."
Pettine, 54, never signed a contract extension that was offered to him after last season, meaning he was in the final year of his deal, a source told ESPN, making it a cleaner split.
LaFleur interviewed at least nine candidates to replace Pettine. According to sources, he interviewed Barry, Leonhard, Jerry Gray (Packers defensive backs coach), Chris Kiffin (Browns defensive line coach), Ryan Nielson (Saints defensive line coach/assistant head coach), Matt Burke (Eagles defensive line/run game coordinator), Chris Harris (Washington defensive backs coach), Ejiro Evero (Rams safeties coach) and Bob Sutton (Falcons senior assistant).
The Packers will have two new coordinators next season. In addition to the new defensive coordinator, LaFleur promoted Maurice Drayton to run the special teams after he fired Shawn Mennenga.