Marvin Lewis said on Sunday that he wants to return as the coach of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018, but acknowledged the first move toward him doing so is ownership wanting him back for a 16th season.
Lewis' contract expired following the Bengals' dramatic 31-27 victory on Sunday that knocked the rival Baltimore Ravens out of playoff contention. He did not receive an extension last offseason, and numerous reports in recent weeks indicated that Lewis might walk away from Cincinnati once the season ended. If so, he would likely be a top candidate for several of the coaching jobs that have already become available, or potentially pursue a front office job or work as an advisor.
However, asked after Sunday's game if he wants to return to the Bengals next season, Lewis said, "Yes I want to coach this team."
Asked if he would return if owner Mike Brown asks him to when the two meet in the coming days, Lewis said, "It's more complicated than that."
Lewis is the longest-tenured coach in Bengals history. Hired in 2003, he has 125 regular-season victories, the most in franchise history. However, he did not receive a one-year extension over the offseason for the first time since 2014, and it has appeared increasingly likely that the sides would part ways after this season - either by Lewis leaving on his own or Brown choosing not to renew his contract.
"I don't know that," Lewis said on Sunday when asked if he had just coached his final game for the Bengals. "We'll see. There are decisions to be made. First, it would be ownership."
The contracts for most of Lewis' assistants also expired at the end of this season.
"He's a heck of a coach. He does unbelievable things in the community. I learned a lot from him. I'm happy for him," Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, who was the Bengals' defensive coordinator before leaving for Minnesota in 2014, said in mid-December. "In my opinion he should be able to stay there as long as he wants."
Lewis has led the Bengals to seven playoff appearances and four division titles. But he is 0-7 in the postseason and the team has stagnated over the past two years despite being armed with a talented defense and investing heavily in skill position players. Despite Sunday's victory, Cincinnati finished with its second consecutive loosing record.
Lewis is the only head coach in NFL history to lose his first seven playoff games. However, he has also coached the Bengals to four AFC North titles in an era in which the Bengals were often battling against strong Baltimore and Pittsburgh teams.
--After the Bengals' victory over the Ravens clinched a playoff spot for the Buffalo Bills, the Bills thanked the Bengals on Twitter by offering them free wings.
"Dear Bengals, After we handled business in Miami, we needed you, and you came through bigtime," a post on the Bills' Twitter account read. "On behalf of this team, the people of the City of Buffalo, and Bills fans around the world, thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU! Wings on us. (No really, we're sending wings.)
"With love, The Buffalo Bills."