Source: LeBeau close to joining Cardinals defensive staff

Dick LeBeau is close to reuniting with Cardinals head coach Bruce Arians after they previously worked together on two Super Bowl-winning teams with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Charles LeClaire/Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

A source told Alex Marvez of FOX Sports late Tuesday night that the Arizona Cardinals are working to finalize a deal that would make Dick LeBeau the team’s linebackers coach.

LeBeau would replace Mike Caldwell, who is joining the staff of recently hired New York Jets coach Todd Bowles, who was the Cardinals defensive coordinator the past two seasons. The Cardinals could fill the coordinator position from within, given comments made by head coach Bruce Arians. Outside linebackers coach James Bettcher and defensive backs coach Nick Rapone are names that have been floated in various reports.

LeBeau, 77, resigned as Pittsburgh’s defense coordinator earlier this month after 11 years. The Steelers fielded the NFL’s 18th-ranked defense in 2014, which was the franchise’s lowest rating since the 1991 campaign.

LeBeau, though, is still held in high regard as one of the league’s top coaches.

LeBeau, who has spent the past 56 years in the NFL, has a long history with Bruce Arians. Both worked on the Steelers staff that directed Super Bowl-winning teams during the 2005 and 2008 seasons.

LeBeau was elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010 for his 14-year career as a standout Detroit Lions cornerback (1959 to 1972). LeBeau began coaching in the NFL the year after his retirement. Known as the innovator of the zone-blitz scheme, LeBeau was Cincinnati’s head coach from 2000 to 2002.

Under Bowles, the Cardinals defense was ranked sixth overall and No. 1 against the run in 2013. This season, despite the season-long absences of linebacker Daryl Washington (suspension), defensive tackle Darnell Dockett (ACL tear), linebacker John Abraham (concussions) and partial-season absences of safety Tyrann Mathieu (knee), defensive end Calais Campbell (knee) and linebacker Matt Shaughnessy (knee), the Cardinals still finished fifth in the league in points allowed per game (18.7).

If LeBeau, 77, does join the staff, the Cardinals would have three assistants over the age of 70. Assistant head coach Tom Moore is 76, and pass rush specialist Tom Pratt is 78. Arians is 62. Assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein will also turn 70 in July.