Lewis ‘very confident’ Bengals will retain Zimmer

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis wants to keep defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati. That might be easier said than done.

Zimmer is expected to be sought-after this offseason, particularly by the Redskins (more on that in a minute), as his contract expired at the end of the season. Per NFL rules, the Bengals own a one-week window with exclusive negotiating rights before any other teams can enter the fray.

During his season-ending news conference Monday, Lewis was asked how confident he was the Bengals could retain Zimmer.

“I’m very confident,” Lewis responded.

NFL.com senior writer Steve Wyche blogged in this space over the weekend that the Bengals will open contract talks with Zimmer this week in an effort to retain his services. However, as Wyche notes, the Bengals tend not to spend excessively. And, as Jason La Canfora posted last week, the high-spending Redskins are very interested in Zimmer as defensive coordinator on Mike Shanahan’s staff, but they could face some competition.

It’s not difficult to connect those dots.

NFL Network insider Michael Lombardi chimed in on the Zimmer front today on NFL Total Access.

“It’s going to take a lot of coin to keep Mike Zimmer in Cincinnati,” Lombardi noted. “Something the Bengals typically don’t like to do is pay assistants top-echelon money in that $2 million per-year-range. I suspect Mike Zimmer will be headed out of Cincinnati and [headed] to Washington D.C.”

— Frank Tadych

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