Monday was mostly a quiet day on the Bengals front, aside from the speculation pouring through these very pages. After meeting with owner Mike Brown, Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis spent some time with the players in a meeting to talk about the offseason, such as upcoming CBA negotiations and what players need to do financially and physically to stay in shape. From all appearances, it sounded more like a run-of-the-mill post season (not playoffs, actually POST season) meeting that Lewis has conducted every Monday the eight years he's been in Cincinnati.
Said defensive tackle Domata Peko: “He didn’t say too much about him being here or not. I’m not sure what is going to happen. Hopefully he is here because I love playing for the guy.”
Obviously Lewis isn't going to reveal his plans to players, who would in turn reveal to all of us through Twitter. At the same time, if Lewis wanted to desperately leave Cincinnati, he would have done it at some point on Monday to put himself out on the market for potential suitors.
Everyone knows the backstory at this point. Marvin Lewis' contract is expiring and he's no longer employed. The Bengals have offered a contract extension in the past and Lewis has claimed that he's cited his demands since last year's bye week for an indoor practice facility, power to make coaching changes and an improvement within the scouting department. Since the changes weren't made dating back to last year's bye week, Lewis has yet to sign an extension. It's primarily the reason people speculate that the Lewis/Bengals marriage is headed for a divorce.
Lewis has already made plans to visit the San Francisco 49ers for a coaching vacancy, who isn't expected to hire any coaches until first hiring a general manager. Even so, as Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter writes, the marriage wouldn't be a good fit because owner "Jed York wants an offensive-minded guy." (Note: Cincinnati's offense was slightly better than the defense throughout his tenure with the Bengals... just saying) Furthermore, along with the fact that Lewis' people were the one's that reached out to the 49ers, the suddenness of this meeting being agreed upon makes us believe that it's Lewis' way of putting pressure on Mike Brown to make him realize that he will leave if his demands aren't met, further pressuring Brown to make those decisions sooner rather than later.
...AND PRESSURE BROWN COULD BE FEELING. Additionally, if Lewis does return, then it's the clearest sign that the Bengals will be committed to providing the team with the most basic needs that mirrors other franchises who sustain more than the win-every-once-in-a-while core philosophy.
If Lewis doesn't sign, you know that the Bengals front office won't make the changes needed to, at the very least, put them on par with mostly every franchise in the league. I believe that Paul Daugherty's point nails it.
You might think that Lewis needs to go, anyway, and so what if he doesnt get the bubble, or a personnel dept, or the ability to release a few coaches from their jobs? Two of the last three years have been disasters. Eight years in one spot is a lifetime in the NFL.
But here’s the thing: If he leaves, most likely it will be because he didnt get the above concessions. All three requests are already standard operating procedure in most NFL towns where winning is a priority. So, showing Marvin the door doesnt remove the problem. It just passes it to someone else.
The biggest (and perhaps best) point in all of this is how public everything has become. By not being able to sign Lewis, it's a clear response that the Bengals have no intention on improving the scouting department, allowing the head coach to choose his own coaches or even an indoor practice facility -- the Bengals are the northernmost team without an indoor facility. Fans response with this clear message will have one of their own, further hurting Brown's bottom line, who is watching season and premium ticket holders dwindle.
We believe it's almost to the point that Brown MUST sign Lewis just to make sure that fans know that they are equally committed to bringing victories, playoffs and championships to Cincinnati. That's probably why he won't be able to.
BROWN OFFERED CONTRACT ON MONDAY. That being said, Geoff Hobson writes Monday afternoon that speculation "is that on Monday Brown made an offer to Lewis after his eighth season finished at 4-12 Sunday." Bengals play-by-play guy, a man that typically doesn't get involved in speculation, even writes that the delay in which the announcement for Lewis leaving the Bengals could "indicate negotiations."
All indications are that Lewis' future in Cincinnati will be decided on Tuesday.