October 10, 2010 by staff
Cincinnati Bengals, Coach of the defending champion of what can be more difficult division football; Marvin Lewis has a lot on his mind before 2.2 Cincinnati Bengals enjoy their bye week. Heading into their match at home against Tampa Bay, Lewis tries to find a way to keep pace with the Baltimore Ravens (3-1) and Pittsburgh Steelers (3-1).
A potential distraction, though, is where Lewis’ contract pending: Twelve weeks from now (or more if the Bengals return to the playoffs), the eighth head coach of the year may be saying goodbye.
But in the last year of the extension of five years and her Bengals owner Mike Brown negotiated after the 2005 season, Lewis is a lame duck as a potential work stoppages possible looms. The timing is particularly curious given that Lewis is the reigning NFL coach of the year after leading Cincinnati to a surprising season last AFC North title, their second division crown in five seasons for a franchise that, before his arrival, had not made the playoffs since 1990.
“He has done so much to change the atmosphere here, and we really value him as a coach,” Bengals Carson Palmer quart (Notes) said Lewis. “I’m not really thinking about the contract situation of Marvin – I’m pretty much just concentrate on football -. But it would be great if they got something ”
Lewis and Brown declined to comment, but two sources familiar with the matter said there had been no serious negotiations on a new agreement. Late summer, Brown approached Lewis with an informal offer to extend his contract for what is essentially his current salary, a pay level characterized by a source familiar with the NFL coaching salaries that rank somewhere in the middle of the League and substantially lower than the average head coaches on their second contracts with their respective teams.
Although Lewis is represented by Octagon, and the president of the organization respected athletes and celebrities, Phil de Picciotto, is personally handling the negotiations, Brown has so far been reluctant to engage in formal discussions. (De Picciotto also declined to comment.)
As the Carolina Panthers coach John Fox, who is also the last year of his contract, Lewis is expected to attract interest from other NFL teams if he would enter the open market. But while Fox would win more than 6 million in 2010, Lewis was much lower in the food chain, and commanding an annual salary somewhere in the 3.5-and 4.5 million range.
To put things in perspective, one of the above sources, said Lewis is much less a season of two other peers who have not yet taken their teams to the Super Bowl, the Jaguars’ Jack Del Rio and the Packers Mike McCarthy. Lewis has a 58-57-1 record during the regular season and 0-2 in the playoffs, with only two losing seasons of his tenure.
According to Lewis, a highly successful defensive coordinator for the Ravens and Redskins, he signed his initial contract of four years in January of 2003; Brown had the habit of adding additional years to the pact. He negotiated and Lewis one-year extensions following the ’03 and ’04 seasons and, after the Bengals won the division title in ’05, the agreement was extended until 2010. Both parties have restructured the contract after the ’07 season, but no additional years were added and the total value remained essentially unchanged.
Although the Browns have a reputation for frugality, Lewis enjoys coaching in Cincinnati and enjoys benefits like a pension plan fully funded, no cost health coverage and an unlimited budget to hire assistant coaches. However, people close to Lewis said he thinks the Bengals lack of a training procedure causes a competitive disadvantage at the end of the season, and he wills likely push for the construction of a practice bubble should increase negotiations.
“I do not know the specifics of the situation of Marvin and I’m sure it looks great, but I think most of all he has to win,” said Palmer. “We want to win, and he wants to give us any edge he can.
“It would be nice to have a bubble, especially when it’s late in the season, or when we get to the playoffs, and we have to play in a warm place, like San Diego or in [a domed stadium] as Indy. Especially if we go to an 18-game season and we play later in the year – it would be really great to be able to have practice inside. Outside bad weather, is difficult for us to practice quality ”
In the past, the Bengals traveled 20 minutes each way by bus to a training complex in Mason, Ohio, sometimes in traffic during rush hour, but it is not considered a preferable option logistics. Most NFL teams in cold weather cities have indoor facilities on site; with the Redskins – Off Lewis coaches before – join the Bengals as notable exceptions.
“I do not know exactly why we did not,” said Palmer. “You hear rumors of various reasons we do not – it is something which owns the land around our facility. But that’s the way it is. Just make the most of it. ”
Meanwhile, Lewis tries to make the most of what may be his last season in Cincinnati. The next step, presumably, is Brown.
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