Bengals sign Taylor to 5-year contract extension: ‘There’s a lot to build on’

Cincinnati Bengals coach Zac Taylor said he was appreciative the organization wants to keep him around for the longhaul but noted his five-year contract extension is a reflection of what “everyone in the building” accomplished.

The Bengals announced they had signed him to a contract through 2026 on Wednesday, though it was known going into Super Bowl LVI that a new deal was in the works with his original three-year contract expiring.

Taylor went 6-25-1 in his first two seasons but in 2021 led the Bengals to a 10-7 regular-season record, an AFC North title, the franchise’s first playoff win in 31 years and an AFC Championship before Cincinnati lost to the L.A. Rams, 23-20, in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday.

“I’m very appreciative, of course,” Taylor said. “This isn’t really about me. This is about all of the people in this building who are working towards a really solid future for all of us. And so I’m excited for everybody. I certainly feel like the future is bright. There’s a lot to build on. There’s a lot of people who were a big part of this season. Some will get the praise and some won’t because they are behind the scenes. There are just a lot of people who I want to thank, it starts with the players and the coaches for everything they did this year, all the hard work that went into this. A lot of tremendous moments that we’ll have a chance to look back on and be appreciate of. Certainly the ownership for being patient with us and giving us this opportunity. There’s so many other people involved as well. … It’s such a special thing to be a part of. It’s such a special place to be a part of, and I’m just happy we all get a chance to experience it and build off of it for the future.”

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Players credited Taylor for turning around the organization by changing the culture in the locker room and bringing in guys willing to work hard to bring success to Cincinnati. He turned over a roster he inherited with a late hire in 2019 after helping the L.A. Rams to the Super Bowl to finish the 2018 season.

The Bengals hired him the the day after the Rams suffered a 13-3 loss to the Patriots, making Taylor the 10th head coach in franchise history despite only interim experience as an NFL coordinator in 2015 with Miami. He was an assistant wide receivers coach and quarterbacks coach in two seasons with the Rams before taking his first head coaching gig at age 35.

“Zac has come into the league and worked to develop the foundations for a winning program that can be successful over time,” Bengals president Mike Brown said in a press release. “The fruits of Zac’s efforts were seen this year, and Zac is well-regarded by our players and coaches. I know the effort and passion Zac brings to the building and to our team, and I am pleased by his approach. And I think the city of Cincinnati sees him the way the players and I do. He’s brought excitement to the town and deserves credit and recognition for that.”

The extension was done Tuesday, and Taylor said it didn’t take long to iron out the details because everyone was “on the same page.”

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“I have a tremendous amount of appreciation for the opportunity I’ve been given here,” Taylor said. “Who knows, if I hadn’t been hired by the Bengals, would I ever be a head coach? I have no idea. So, I’ll always be appreciative of the opportunity that Mike and the family gave me. I’m happy here. My family loves it here. I love coming into the building every day. I love everybody I interact with. So, it’s not a difficult decision to move forward on something when everyone’s on the same page that way.”

Taylor said the biggest thing he’s learned in his first three years as a head coach was to trust the people around him and just to “empower them to continue to do their jobs.”

The contributions of Taylor’s offensive and defensive coordinators were recognized enough this season that both interviewed for head coaching jobs – Brian Callahan with the Broncos and Lou Anarumo with the Giants – but those teams went with other hires. They appear poised to stay, but Taylor will have at least one position open on his staff with linebackers coach Al Golden named Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator on Tuesday.

Asked what his own new contract means for the rest of the staff, Taylor said “it’s the early part of that” but noted how excited he is about the coaches in place.

“I’ve seen this for three years, two years, one year with the people that we’ve added,” Taylor said. “It’s a tremendous group of coaches. They get it, the players respect them and it’s a fun group to be around. Just really happy to continue moving forward with this group.”

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