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Marvin Lewis expected back in 2017; may not get contract extension

Some things never change and Marvin Lewis’ head coaching gig in Cincinnati is one of them.

Denver Broncos v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The Bengals are expected to keep Marvin Lewis as head coach in 2017, but with a bit of a twist.

According to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, Lewis is expected to retain his job this offseason, but may not receive a contract extension. With his deal expiring after the 2017 season, La Canfora believes Lewis will be coaching through the final year of his deal before becoming a free agent coach in 2018.

League sources are indicating the team does not intend to part with Lewis, who had reached the postseason for a team-record five straight seasons before a step back in 2016 after offseason defections and injuries riddled his club.

Brown does not intend to fire Lewis with a year left on his current deal, though sources said it is far less likely the coach receives another one-year extension this summer -- which has become an annual process during training camp.

Lewis may have to coach out his deal before Brown decides what makes sense for the future; there has long been an expectation that Lewis would move into a front-office position when his coaching stint ends.

Lewis has received a one-year extension for the last three years with the Bengals, but his team has underachieved enough in 2016 that he should, at the very least, have to earn his next deal with a bounceback 2017 season.

The dreaded lame-duck year is something no coach wants to go through, but Lewis doesn’t deserve any security beyond 2017.

La Canfora goes on to mention the Bengals have considered having a head coach in waiting for this team, and that defensive coordinator Paul Guenther is someone highly thought of within the organization. While Guenther’s defense has taken a step back this year, he’s done an admirable job keeping this unit ranked 11th in scoring defense, despite the offense's ineptitude putting them in a bad spot frequently.

In four losses this year, the defense allowed 21 or fewer points and in six losses they allowed 24 or fewer points. But because the offense has been so lackluster (tied for 23rd in scoring), the defense often gets overlooked and only pointed out when they allow a big play, so it’s hard to look at Guenther negatively for what he’s done this season after his unit ranked second in scoring defense last year.

As for Lewis, it’s no surprise that he is expected to be back next year. The Bengals have enjoyed arguably the best stretch in franchise history with seven playoff trips in an eight-year span, even though they will miss the postseason this year.

Not long after the retirement rumors arose, Mike DeCourcy of The Sporting News penned a nice piece on why Lewis should be praised, not persecuted, for what he’s done with a franchise that never seems to be as all-in as most NFL franchises. He’s often been hamstrung by owner Mike Brown not dedicating more resources to this team, and it’s fair to think Lewis may have had more success if he were coaching a team like the Giants, Broncos, or Packers.

After all, Lewis had to overcome a lot just to make this franchise a consistent winner.