The Bengals are going to be shopping for a head coach this offseason and Marvin Lewis will likely be done with his tenure having never won a playoff game because, according to a report, he is "planning to leave" Cincinnati this offseason.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Lewis is going to step away from the team this offseason and wants to continue coaching.
Lewis no longer being the Bengals head coach after 2017 is hardly a well-kept secret: we've discussed ad nauseum on the Pick Six Podcast (subscribe on iTunes here) how Lewis was likely to be out as the Bengals coach after this year, with the potential for him to slide into a front-office type of role.
But it appears as if things will not be quite as amicable as one might think, although Lewis avoiding the actual label of being fired is notable. Here he would walk away from a situation where he's not under contract --and let him play out the final year of his contract -- and look for other employment opportunities.
According to Schefter, Lewis is "likely to be on teams' short lists of candidates" for other possible job openings. The Giants have already fired Ben McAdoo, the Bears are likely to fire John Fox, the Browns could still open up and in the end we could end up seeing roughly 8-10 job openings.
Should Lewis fail to secure one of those positions, Schefter reports the long-time Bengals coach "would be interested in working in another team's front office or as a coaching adviser for a former Bengals assistant coach." Mike Zimmer of the Vikings, who previously worked as Lewis' defensive coordinator, springs to mind. Jay Gruden of the Redskins and Hue Jackson of the Bengals also stem from the Lewis coaching tree.
It is notable that there's no discussion of Lewis staying with the Bengals inside the report. According to Schefter, several Bengals assistant coaches, who have yet to be extended, are "unhappy with the way they have been treated financially."
Lewis will go down as a punchline in some cases because he and Andy Dalton never won a playoff game. But it is worth noting that, until he is formally relieved of his duties/walks away/however you want to phrase it, he is the coach with the second-longest tenure in the NFL, behind only Bill Belichick. Packers coach Mike McCarthy will take over that role once Lewis is out in Cincinnati.
And it is also worth noting that Lewis helped to revive a pathetic Bengals franchise. From 1984 (when Sam Wyche was hired as Bengals coach) through 2002 (the year before Lewis was hired), the Bengals had more coaches (four) than playoff appearances (two). Under Lewis, they went to the playoffs seven times and developed a deep and consistent roster that was perennially in the hunt for an AFC North title.
Perhaps the craziest part of this story? The Bengals, according to Paul Dehner of the Cincinnati Enquirer, were "caught off guard" by the news on Sunday morning.
That implies that the rift between the coach and the team might be more one-sided than initially thought or simply that Lewis knows the jig is up in Cincinnati and wants to go ahead and get out in front of the news. Walking away is always a better option than being fired; even if it's just semantics, the ability to say you were not fired helps when you're looking for a new job.
The actual change itself is still a little bit down the road, but the reality is setting in that Lewis only has three more games remaining in his lengthy tenure as Bengals coach.