Bengals retain defensive coordinator Zimmer

Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer has signed a three-year contract to remain with the team, a source with knowledge of the situation said Tuesday.

Zimmer’s retention — his contract was set to expire — is considered a huge deal for a team that won the AFC North this season, largely on the strength of its defense.

Zimmer, who just completed his second season with Cincinnati, was reported to have been targeted for the defensive coordinator job in Washington under new coach Mike Shanahan. Zimmer also figured to have other suitors based on the job he has done in turning around the Bengals’ defense.

However, Zimmer’s relationship with coach Marvin Lewis, his affinity for several of his players and ownership’s commitment were factors in his decision to stay with the Bengals.

UPDATE: The Bengals officially announced the deal later Tuesday and released a statement in which Zimmer said: “I love working with Marvin (Lewis). He’s a great coach who does a terrific job, and he has been like family to me through all the ordeal our family has gone through (Zimmer’s wife, Vikki, died on Oct. 8). And I really respect the group of players we have. They have worked exceptionally hard, and I know they join me in knowing we have to keep improving as we move forward.”

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