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Cincinnati Bengals, Andy Dalton to discuss contract

INDIANAPOLIS -- Andy Dalton has been holding the Cincinnati Bengals' offense back in the playoffs for three straight seasons. But there's no reason to expect a different quarterback in Cincinnati anytime soon.

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This is the first year that Dalton can sign a contract extension. And the Bengals sound very open to signing him to a new deal.

"At some point here in the future, representation from our people and his people will get together and try to discuss something," Lewis said. "We feel good about what Andy has done over his first three seasons. And we hope to continue to help him and put people around him to allow him to play better and better."

When pressed, Lewis deflected Dalton's lack of development to the entire team.

"We didn't play very good from the quarterback spot (in the playoffs)," Lewis said. "We didn't play very good on defense. We didn't play very good with protection. And you get beat when you do that."

Perhaps contract talk won't go anywhere with Dalton this offseason. The Bengals should feel like they are negotiating from a position of strength because there shouldn't be a huge rush to give Dalton huge long-term money. If Dalton were a free agent this year, we don't think he would have that strong a market. What's the rush?

Some other nuggets from Lewis:

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» Lewis wouldn't rule out the franchise tag as an "option" for defensive end Michael Johnson, but he didn't sound optimistic about the possibility. He wants to work out a long-term contract with Johnson. (We find it far more likely Johnson leaves town, possibly to join former Bengals coordinator Mike Zimmer in Minnesota.)

» Chris Wesseling asked Lewis about possibly increasing Giovani Bernard's role. Lewis said that was unlikely to happen, indicating Bernard's touches were essentially maxed out: "You can't continually pound one guy."

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