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Will Marvin Lewis stay or go?

Oakland Raiders v Cincinnati Bengals

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 16: Head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals walks on the sideline during the second quarter of the game against the Oakland Raiders at Paul Brown Stadium on December 16, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

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Last year at this time, it was widely reported and believed that Bengals coach Marvin Lewis would leave Cincinnati. And then he didn’t, signing a new two-year deal at a time when either side could have walked away.

So what will happen this year?

Few are reporting or saying much about it, likely for fear of being wrong, again. As of this posting, even the Bengals assistant coaches don’t know what’s going on, and are actively trying to find out.

Some think Lewis will resign after the season, possibly to end his career in broadcasting -- or maybe to land in Arizona as the replacement for Steve Wilks. (Lewis apparently has a retirement home in Phoenix, and he could move to that retirement home without actually retiring.)

As one source has explained it to PFT, the Cardinals actually considered making a run at Lewis a year ago, but ultimately decided against it. This year, after a failed season with Steve Wilks, maybe the Cardinals will decide otherwise.

So who would replace Marvin if/when he goes? Some still think Hue Jackson would get serious consideration, his dismal showing in Oakland and Cleveland notwithstanding. The possibility continues to have legs primarily because owner Mike Brown abhors change, and he will gravitate toward someone he knows.

And here’s where things could get very, very interesting. What if Brown decides to make a play for someone who used to be on the coaching staff? Someone who owns a large ranch in nearby Kentucky? Someone who may want to end his career without the never-ending stress and strain of a close-but-not-close-enough team that annually knocks on the door but can’t kick it in?

Yes, some think that the Mike Brown may try to hire Mike Zimmer (if Marvin goes), and some think Zimmer possibly would be interested. Much would depend on whether the Vikings would be willing to let Zimmer leave, and on whether the Vikings would want significant compensation for doing so.

For clarity, this is nothing more than semi-informed spitballing at this point, not nearly as strong as the very-informed spitballing from early last February, when we pointed out on multiple occasions that noise was building that Josh McDaniels would jilt the Colts. But if Marvin leaves -- and no one but Marvin seems to know if he will -- the dominoes could fall in all sorts of unexpected ways in Cincinnati.