(Editor's Note: I've decided to break up my mailbag posts into a couple per week because of the length and variety of topics. I'll continue to answer your questions and will address the current happenings of the club. Keep an eye out for the other mailbag this weekend and continue to tweet me questions @CUIBengalsFan or email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
The draft is over and the Cincinnati Bengals absolutely killed it. They nabbed value with every pick and could come out of this draft having four or five immediate starters. With national pundits lauding the team's weekend, they're not crediting Bengals owner for the team's acumen. The praise has been heaped on Marvin Lewis and it's becoming more and more apparent that the ten-year coach got quite a bit of sway in his last contract.
So what of a new contract for Lewis? He's in the last year of a two-year deal and there doesn't appear to be any urgency in getting Lewis a new contract. With the team coming off of an improbable playoff appearance and back-to-back-to-back solid draft classes, some are beginning to wonder if Lewis will be getting another new contract sometime soon. I was asked this on Twitter recently:
The short answer to this would be that, yes, it's very likely that Marvin is playing the waiting game to possibly gain more leverage in another contract. I don't want to infer that I think that Marvin is jerking the team around, but it's wise for him to get the most he can in his next contract. His last contract, though only for two years, brought him a bunch of new power within the organization and it's likely that he's holding out for more. If he does achieve a playoff victory this year, I'm sure that we'll see Brown concede even more to Lewis in a new contract.
The main point of contention between Brown and Lewis that will need to likely be addressed in a new contract is the want/need for an indoor practice facility. Lewis was given Brown's blessing in trading two big names in Bengals culture in Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, as well as with hiring two new scouts. Lewis subtly hinted at a "change in draft philosophy" and the desire for an indoor facility while negotiating his last contract. Since Brown budged on some other things, it's possible that he could be persuaded on this as well. Last we heard, there were rumblings of some movement on the project.
It's likely that if Lewis were to get the Bengals into a playoff run this year, he could receive this concession. I think most Bengal fans are on board with this desire, as the harsh weather in the Ohio winter months could play an effect on team morale and overall fatigue. More than anything, it just seems to be a necessity for cold-weather teams nowadays, and having a facility like this would help with free agency recruitment.
I think it's pretty obvious that the Brown family wants Lewis in Cincinnati, and I also believe that that sentiment is reciprocated by the coach. I liken Lewis' desire to remain in Cincinnati to a program director of a new major at a University, and/or an entrepreneur who took over a dying business and made it his/her own. He's made the team actually competitive and they've been in the playoffs three times in the past seven years. The team wasn't in the playoffs for the thirteen years before Lewis' arrival. He's proud of what he's built here and seems genuinely happy about the current direction of the franchise. I think the marriage works well for both parties.
The interesting dynamic will be if the Bengals suffer through a mediocre or worse season this year. There is a faction of Bengals fans that like Lewis, but wonder if he's ever able of getting them over the hump, a la Marty Schottenheimer. If the Bengals fail to make the playoffs and/or don't win a playoff game yet again this year, it will be very interesting to watch fans' reactions if Lewis is retained once again. My guess is that it wouldn't be pretty, given the somewhat high expectations surrounding the club for 2012.