Marvin Lewis' Bengals future in doubt; Dalton set to return in '19

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton's season has ended on injured reserve, but his future for 2019 is secure. Sources say the starter is expected to be back next season, and his thumb surgery won't change that.

The status of his head coach is much more in doubt.

Cincinnati generated headlines last year when they brought back Marvin Lewis on what was announced as a two-year contract. As owner Mike Brown said, "we have full confidence in Marvin to re-establish winning football in 2018."

What the Bengals did not do, sources now say, was commit to Lewis beyond this season. Though billed as a two-year contract, the belief is it's actually a one-year deal with a team option for 2019. That essentially means the Bengals can walk away from Lewis without a monetary penalty following the season.

"Our standard and normal response to inquiries about contract details is that we do not disclose details about our contracts with players or coaches," a team spokesman said.

As we learned last year, it's too early in the season to know for sure whether or not Lewis' 16-year run is over. The thought last year was Lewis was done in Cincy before the Bengals won their final two games and Lewis saved himself.

With potential successor Hue Jackson in the building, Lewis also could move to the front office. That's a possibility.

The Bengals were 4-1 at one point this season. But thanks in part to an incredible number of injuries, they've now lost three in a row. Still, it's fair to say Lewis' future is in doubt.

Follow Ian Rapoport on Twitter @RapSheet.

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