CINCINNATI -- Even though Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and his assistants have expiring contracts, no decision had been made as of Monday morning regarding whether Lewis will return to Cincinnati for a 16th season.
Although Lewis acknowledged there was some urgency to move quickly, it appears he and Bengals owner Mike Brown will continue to have more discussions before a decision is made.
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther could be a candidate to join Jon Gruden's future staff with the Oakland Raiders next year.
"Yeah it is hard. I spoke with [the assistant coaches] this morning, we met with them this morning about it, and I told them that as far as from my direction, I would get them [an answer on] where things are quick as I could," Lewis said Monday.
"It's unfortunate that they're stuck in this limbo right now that way. They're aware of it and so forth, so that also makes an urgency for both parties that way, because they're basically free agents as well. The urgency has to happen on both sides."
Lewis has a 125-112-3 regular-season record with Cincinnati. He has led the team to the playoffs seven times, without a postseason victory. The Bengals wrapped up a 7-9 season Sunday with a 31-27 victory over Baltimore.
On Monday, Lewis repeatedly professed a need for him and Brown to be on the same page.
"Every decision I have ever made here is mutual with both of us. Since January of '03 it's always been mutual. It has to be that way." Lewis said.
Lewis seemed reluctant to discuss what exactly would lead to a mutual decision to bring him back next year, cutting himself off at times and acknowledging he was worrying about revealing too much. Lewis said he thinks there's a path that would lead to his return, but didn't elaborate, instead joking that it was time to cut off the news conference.
Lewis and Brown were stuck in this position after the 2010 season. It took two days after that season to decide Lewis would return and sign a new deal.
Some of the reported issues at the time involved concessions Lewis wanted to see from Brown, including the size of the scouting staff, control over personnel (roster and coaching) and the need for an indoor practice facility. Although Brown did concede some things, the scouting staff remains small and an indoor practice facility was never built.
Although those specific issues might not factor in this time around, there are likely changes Lewis would like to see. He admitted it's more complicated than Brown simply extending an offer and Lewis accepting it.
"There's a lot of things. People have their viewpoint and I have my viewpoint. The one thing that we've been consistent on since I began here is staying on the same page. And I think that's important," Lewis said. "There's a direction the owner wants to have. ... And if his direction is different than my direction, then that's probably not good. We just have to make sure we're all on the same page."
Lewis said the roster is one of the things he and Brown discuss. When asked if he was happy with the roster prior to the season, Lewis didn't fully answer the question. The Bengals lost both Andrew Whitworth and Kevin Zeitler to free agency and the offensive line struggled all year as a result.
The Bengals also made the rare decision to fire offensive coordinator Ken Zampese two weeks into the season because of poor results and an angry locker room. The Bengals promoted Zampese to offensive coordinator in 2016 after 13 seasons as quarterbacks coach instead of finding an outside candidate.
"We're aligned on things," Lewis said. "But I think as you move forward, '17 is over and we're going into '18 now and the future, so I think everybody wants to make sure we stay on the same course together."
Lewis has repeated that he wants to continue coaching and has said there is no role for him in Cincinnati's front office and never has been.
"I don't know where these thoughts come from that people make up. But, no," he said.