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Promised changes help Bengals retain Lewis

The front office won't change significantly. The Bengals will still be practicing in the cold. Even with all that, Marvin Lewis decided to stay.

Lewis agreed to an unspecified contract extension on Tuesday that will make him the longest-tenured coach in club history. Owner Mike Brown agreed to changes in the coaching staff and the roster as part of a deal that left both sides comfortable.

The Bengals are coming off a 4-12 season and have had only two winning records in the last 20 years -- both under Lewis, who is 60-69-1 in eight seasons, including losses in both playoff appearances.

"We are close to being the kind of team we can be," Brown said. "I think continuity will give us the best shot at becoming that team. We have a good relationship, Marvin and I. We work well together. It isn't an easy relationship, but it's a good one."

Lewis wanted to stay, but only if there were changes in how the team operates. The team initially offered an extension last season, when the Bengals were on their way to winning the AFC North title.

The coach and owner met on Monday and talked about what Lewis needed to stay. They had more discussions Tuesday morning and reached an agreement in the afternoon.

"When you consider all things, looking forward and so forth, I think this is the right spot for me to be," Lewis said. "I'm not happy with where we are. It's not finished. I came here to do a certain thing and we're not done."


>Mularkey's a wanted man

The Cleveland Browns and Denver Broncos will kick off their searches for a new coach by interviewing Atlanta Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey.

John Elway will be introduced as the Broncos' new chief football executive this week, and he'll interview Mularkey in Atlanta on Friday and then return to Denver to speak with interim Broncos coach Eric Studesville about the job on Monday.

The Falcons are off this week after earning a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Mularkey was head coach in Buffalo in 2004-05, when he went 14-18, and has run the Falcons' offense since 2008. Mularkey, who spent nine seasons in the NFL as a tight end in Minnesota and Pittsburgh, has also been an offensive coordinator for the Steelers and Miami Dolphins.

Studesville, a former Bills assistant, was promoted from running backs coach when Josh McDaniels was fired a month ago and went 1-3 as interim coach. Broncos chief operating officer Joe Ellis said Studesville "did a fine job."

In Cleveland, Browns President Mike Holmgren is casting a wide net in his search to replace defensive-minded Eric Mangini, who was fired Monday. In addition to Mularkey, Holmgren plans to interview St. Louis offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, former Carolina coach John Fox, former Tampa Bay coach and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden, New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.


>Laettner owes Merriman

WASHINGTON -- Buffalo Bills player Shawne Merriman will get $3.7 million from two former Duke basketball stars after a federal judge ruled in his favor in a loan dispute.

A federal court judge in Maryland ordered Christian Laettner and Brian Davis to pay Merriman in December.

According to court documents, Merriman said he loaned Laettner and Davis $3 million for their real estate business in 2007, but the pair failed to pay back all the money and interest and failed to convey ownership interests promised to Merriman, as required to in 2009. Laettner and Davis claim in court documents there were problems with the agreement.


>Around the league

* Rookie running back Chris Ivory was placed on injured reserve by the New Orleans Saints with a left foot injury. Ivory, the team's leading rusher with 716 yards, was injured in Sunday's season finale. To replace Ivory, the Saints signed DeShawn Wynn.

* Seahawks quarterbacks Matt Hasselbeck and Charlie Whitehurst split reps in Seattle's first practice in preparation for its NFC playoff game against New Orleans. Whitehurst started and helped lead Seattle to a 16-6 win over St. Louis last Sunday. Hasselbeck sat out that game with a hip strain.

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