Mark Helfrich is leaving Oregon for the NFL.
But not necessarily for greener pastures.
Helfrich, who has been hired as the offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, reached a settlement with Oregon on May 5 of last year, which was signed by athletic director Rob Mullens three days later. According to documents released to The Register-Guard following a public records request, the Ducks’ former head coach received a lump-sum “termination payment” of $8,053,830.
The settlement was first reported by 247Sports on Thursday.
After being fired following a 4-8 finish in 2016, Helfrich was still owed $11.6 million. He signed a lucrative contract extension, which was to run through the 2019 season, following Oregon’s appearance in the 2014 national championship game.
Per the settlement, if Helfrich’s compensation exceeds $1.7 million through Jan. 31, 2020, the date his Oregon deal was to expire, he will be required to pay the school 50 percent of his post-termination compensation.
Another former Oregon coach, Chip Kelly had offered Helfrich the offensive coordinator position at UCLA, according to a FootballScoop report.
The Bruins will play Mario Cristobal’s Ducks on Nov. 3 at Autzen Stadium.
Instead, Helfrich will give the NFL a try, just as Kelly did after leaving Oregon with a 46-7 record from 2009-12.
Before posting a 37-16 overall record as Oregon’s coach for four seasons (2013-16), which included guiding the Ducks to a Pac-12 championship and the inaugural College Football Playoff in 2014, Helfrich was Kelly’s offensive coordinator.
Helfrich has never coached in the NFL before, but he worked for current Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter at Boise State before a successful run at Oregon under Kelly, the former Philadelphia Eagles and San Francisco 49ers coach.
The Bears recently hired coach Matt Nagy, the former Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator, who has said he will handle the play-calling duties.
Helfrich, who was released from his obligations to make “reasonable, good faith and diligent” efforts to obtain comparable employment as part of the settlement with Oregon, spent last season working as a college football analyst for Fox Sports 1.
Chicago’s offense features quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, the second overall pick in last year’s draft, who passed for 2,193 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions as a rookie. The Bears also have two former Ducks, Hroniss Grasu and Kyle Long, on the offensive line.