CINCINNATI - Marvin Lewis suggested that he and Bengals President Mike Brown don't see eye-to-eye on some team issues and the two will have to iron them out in short order if he is to return as Bengals coach.
Lewis agreed that there is a mutual interest in continuing his relationship with the Bengals and disclosed that he's never been offered a position other than head coach.
But Lewis kept his answers close to the vest as usual and didn't reveal much else in a Monday news conference at Paul Brown Stadium.
What the now former Bengals coach - his contract expired Monday - did say seems to suggest that he didn't talk to Brown about becoming general manager, that there are team issues (not contract or money issues) he and Brown don't agree on, and that their discussions shouldn't continue beyond a few more days.
That could be Lewis insisting that he, not Brown, have final say on whether certain players or assistant coaches return. Think Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Zeitler, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Hue Jackson.
Lewis said he has always insisted that he and Brown be "on the same page" during his 15 years as head coach and suggested that any conflicts would have to be ironed out if Brown wants him to stay. Brown did not attend the news conference.
At one point, Lewis even said the two didn't discuss his status during their Monday morning meeting.
"We never talked about my deal. We never talked about anything other than the football team and my viewpoints on the football team," Lewis said.
There had been an expectation that Lewis and Brown would come to a decision on Monday, but Mike Garafalo of NFL Network reported that Lewis told his staff that it could be "a day or a few before everything shakes out."
Lewis and the Bengals don't want to wait too long because other teams are already making coaching changes and filling staffs.
Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenter is one coach with options.
Bengals' DC Paul Guenther, whose contract is now up, is an enviable position: he is expected to be a leading candidate to become Jon Gruden's DC in Oakland or could be HC candidate in Cincinnati depending on how the Marvin Lewis situations unfolds, per league source.
The Bengals' stunning last-minute victory over the Ravens Sunday may have increased the odds of Lewis staying for another season as Bengals coach. A happy Lewis seemed to skip off the field in Baltimore and said he would coach the Bengals for a 16th year, but added, "it's more complicated than that."
"There are decisions to be made" but "first it'll be the ownership" to make the move, Lewis said.
That could mean Lewis believes he's in a stronger position to make demands than he was two weeks ago.
It could mean Lewis wants to be coach and general manager.
It could mean Lewis has other conditions for staying.
But Brown, who didn’t offer Lewis a contract extension before or during the season, may be ready to go in a different direction anyway after two straight losing seasons.
Worst thing to do is get caught up in the moment in anything. But if Mike Brown offered Marvin Lewis a contract... https://t.co/bZaBud1jrv
Lewis would seem to have more bargaining chips with Brown now that the 7-9 Bengals finished on a high note by knocking the Ravens and Lions out of playoff contention in the last two weeks.
One thing’s clear: the Bengals ended their 50th season Sunday with one of the most thrilling and unlikely wins in their history. Andy Dalton's pass and Tyler Boyd’s 49-yard catch and run on fourth-and-12 with 44 seconds left sealed a 31-27 win over the Ravens.
No players I spoke to said "we won this one for Marvin" but you do get the sense many want him back, and it isn't just lip service. @WCPO#Bengals
By winning their last two games, the Bengals dropped to 12th in the 2018 draft order. If they had lost both games, they would be drafting fifth.
The Bengals' 2018 opponents, as determined Sunday, will include home games with Denver, Oakland, New Orleans, Tampa Bay and Miami and away games with Kansas City, LA Chargers, Atlanta, Carolina and Indianapolis, as well as home-and-aways with division rivals Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland.