During NBC's Football Night in America, Peter King spoke about a discussion he had with Marvin Lewis after Cincinnati's game against the Ravens.
"Talk to Lewis this afternoon after his game against Baltimore. His contract is up in Cincinnati. Everybody is assuming he's not going to be back. And I asked him about it and he said listen 'it isn't only about whether the Bengals want me back, it's whether I want to return.' So I think that thing is headed for divorce."
On the other hand, Geoff Hobson writes that Lewis would like to return.
Asked after the game if he would like to come back to Cincinnati, Lewis said "yes."
"We sit down, we talk and we all agree," he said of what it would take for him to come back.
If the Peter King and Geoff Hobson reports sound vaguely familiar, it’s because those reports actually came from January 2, 2011, when Lewis was without a contract. And everything written above, with the exception of the opening sentence, was copied and pasted from an article we wrote at the time.
Lewis was so adamant about leaving Cincinnati at the time that he booked a flight to San Francisco to speak with the 49ers. This was a meeting that Lewis’ camp setup; the 49ers didn’t even want Lewis, nor did they view him as a legitimate candidate.
According to Sports Illustrated's Jim Trotter, Marvin Lewis is expected to meet with the San Francisco 49ers. Trotter writes that Lewis isn't "viewed as a legit candidate" and that it was Lewis' people that contacted the 49ers and not the other way around.
This almost felt like a Michael Scott (from The Office) stunt, overemphasizing a point by unnecessarily being overdramatic about it. “Well, if you don’t want me, then I’ll go somewhere else.” There wasn’t much demand for him.
To be sure, Lewis was posturing then. Despite not being under contract, Lewis was confident Mike Brown would make every effort to re-sign him. After all, Brown hates looking for a new head coach and vehemently despises change. Lewis recognized the opportunity and took advantage of negotiations, hoping to upgrade training facilities and the team’s player personnel department.
In addition to picking up additional front office power, Lewis watched the Bengals rebuild the scouting department with better personnel doing the scouting, while Duke Tobin, the closest thing Cincinnati has to a general manager right now, was given more responsibility. As a result, the team’s draft selections have vastly improved, compared to Lewis’ drafts from 2003-2009.
Then Cincinnati poured millions into their training facilities, including an additional $2 million (via an agreement with Hamilton County) to add a new weight room and expand the lockerroom. Now matter how it happened or who funded it, Lewis eventually saw improvements.
There are reasons to believe Lewis is taking the same approach today. Aside from a fact that he’s done this in the past, these reports are inconsistent. On December 17, 2017, hours prior the Bengals’ epic loss to the Vikings, ESPN reported that Lewis wants to leave Cincinnati. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport even added that he and Lewis had talked the previous night, with Lewis saying that a GM position is “something I would listen to.” Lewis has shut down questions about his future and denied all of that since these reports surfaced, but speculation reigned.
Following the Bengals’ season finale win over the Ravens, Lewis was asked if he wants to remain as the Bengals head coach and offered that it’s “complicated.” What’s he asking for? More money? A multi-year deal? More power within the front office? Perhaps he wants to become a hybrid between a General Manager and a Head Coach, like Bill Belichick, or Andy Reid (who has since relinquished his GM duties).
Regardless, Lewis is posturing now, like he was seven years ago.
Lewis knows that Mike Brown desperately wants to avoid a new coaching search. NFL reporter Jason Cole adds that someone in the Bengals organization thinks Mike Brown is afraid that a new coach will demand too many changes.
One person in the #Bengals organization thinks Mike Brown is afraid to have to search for a new coach because that person might want to change too many things in the organization.— Jason Cole (@JasonCole62) January 1, 2018
No decisions will be made on Monday, as all of the principles want to slowly come to an agreement; and the remains true whether or not Lewis stays in Cincinnati.