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Marvin Lewis’ long-term status with Bengals looms large

Should the Bengals give Marvin Lewis a multi-year extension?

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Could this season be Marvin Lewis’ final one as the Bengals’ head coach?

Lewis has signed 1-year extensions for three straight years in March 2014, April 2015 and April 2016. The Bengals have been keeping him on a short leash with an ability to cut ties on an annual basis for the last three years, all three of which featured one-and-done playoff appearances.

Knowing the Bengals and how they typically operate, it’s hard to imagine that Lewis could be fired next offseason, regardless of how poorly or phenomenally the Bengals finish out the 2016 season. Lewis brought the Bengals back to respectability after years of misery in the 1990s and early 2000s for the Bengals and their fans. But, recently, the Bengals have been losing much respect for the way players act under Lewis’ leadership and how the team has played through the first eight weeks of the season. For a team possessing the amount of talent the Bengals employ, a 3-4-1 start is hard to fathom.

Many Bengals fans are losing patience with Lewis, and talking heads like Stephen A. Smith feel the same. While Lewis has changed the culture in Cincinnati and the expectations fans have for their football team, losing year after year in the first round of the playoffs gets old. And losing big games continually when the pressure is highest has become too routine in Cincinnati under Lewis’ watch.

In ESPN's midseason article of the biggest upcoming roster decision for all 32 NFL teams, for the Bengals, Field Yates chose whether or not to re-up Lewis for the long-term.

Long-term outlook for Lewis: The Bengals signed coach Marvin Lewis to a one-year extension through the 2017 season this past April, but that means the clock is quickly ticking before questions about another extension arrive. It's uncommon for NFL head coaches to enter a season on the final year of a deal. Although the Bengals haven't won a playoff game since 1990, Lewis has guided the team to a postseason appearance in five straight seasons and six of the past seven. Sustained success in football is so hard to achieve; I'm of the opinion that a long-term contract for Lewis would be merited.

Yates believes the Bengals should lock up Lewis long-term. But, with how this season has started, I’d find it hard to imagine the team re-signing Lewis long-term after giving him three 1-year extensions in a row. Why would the team’s worst season (at least so far) of the last five years land Lewis a long-term deal?

What do you think is the Bengals’ number one decision to make in the coming months? Is it Lewis’ contract status and employment with the team?