Marvin Lewis will be entering the final year of his Bengals contract without the promise of a new deal coming.
The last time Lewis neared lame-duck status, he agreed on a one-year extension with owner Mike Brown to avoid a situation where he was theoretically coaching for his job. Lewis, 58, has been the team's head coach since 2003.
This season will be an interesting one for Lewis who, last winter, was discussing a succession plan with now-Browns head coach Hue Jackson. He rejected reports he was contemplating retirement, though it's uncertain what lies ahead for the second-longest tenured head coach in the NFL next to Bill Belichick.
Lewis' lack of a playoff win mars what was a solid turn around in Cincinnati. Since 2003, the Bengals have reached the playoffs seven times, including a five-year stretch between 2011 and 2015. He's secured two franchise quarterbacks and, of late, has built a roster that is one of the most popular picking grounds for opposing teams in free agency. All of these are signs of a good coach and personnel mind, even if that run might be coming to an end.
Should the Bengals overcome their free agency losses this offseason, which were significant and include nearly half of their offensive line, there's no doubt Lewis should have the chance to come back next year. It's hard not to get wrapped up in the glaring absence of playoff success, but it's important to consider where the franchise came from and just how competitive they've been on a shoestring budget.