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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Neither Lewis nor Bengals could do better

By James Walker

With average facilities, a scant front office and questionable ownership, the Cincinnati Bengals were not going to land a more experienced and accomplished head coach than Marvin Lewis.

Coming off a vastly underachieving 4-12 season, Lewis also wasn't going to land another head-coaching job this year in the NFL.

Marvin Lewis
Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is expected to remain with Cincinnati.
In the end, neither the Bengals nor Lewis can do better, and that's why both parties agreed to extend their tenuous marriage on Tuesday. Details of the deal were not disclosed, so some questions still remain.

Did Lewis get major upgrades across the board? After eight seasons in Cincinnati, he has a clear vision of what it takes to compete annually with the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North. That includes spending millions of dollars on free agents, hiring a general manager, beefing up the scouting department and building an indoor practice facility for the team.

But Bengals ownership, led by owner Mike Brown, has refused to agree to these upgrades in the past. That is why Lewis didn't sign a contract extension coming off a playoff appearance last year, despite numerous attempts by Bengals management.

Whether Lewis was promised some or all of these improvements when he signed Tuesday remains to be seen. But based on Cincinnati's history, it's doubtful. Lewis had less leverage than he did a year ago, which means he may have "settled" for not getting everything he wanted.

But this is still a win-win for both sides. The Bengals return their experienced coach, who brought them out of the dark ages and led the team to two playoff appearances since 2005. At the same time, Lewis remains an NFL head coach and bought himself more time to improve his stock for better, more stable opportunities.