Vikings Expected to Cut Former 1st-Round Pick Abruptly

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

Getty General Manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah of the Minnesota Vikings.

The Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine seems to be on thin ice in Minnesota.

The 32nd overall pick in the 2022 draft, Cine struggled to carve out a role for himself in Brian Flores’ defense, playing just eight defensive snaps last season in his second year with the team.

In a May 12 column, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press wrote that he expects the Vikings to cut their losses with Cine, who he deemed “untradeable.”

“Former Vikings first-round safety bust Lewis Cine, because he’s guaranteed $4 million over the next two seasons, is untradeable. It’s likely he’ll get waived in training camp,” Walters wrote. “If a team were to claim him, it would be responsible for the $4 million. After clearing waivers, some team might be willing to sign him as a free agent.”

Cine suffered a compound fracture to his leg that abruptly ended his rookie year but made a full recovery last offseason, playing primarily on special teams.

He came out of college as an explosive box safety for a national championship Georgia defense, leading the Bulldogs in tackles and pass breakups in 2022.

The Vikings rostered six safeties last season and Cine projects to be sixth on the depth chart behind Harrison Smith, Camryn Bynum, Josh Mettellus, Theo Jackson and Jay Ward.

Vikings Face Financial Dilemma With Lewis Cine

GettySafety Lewis Cine of the Minnesota Vikings.

Entering the third year of his $11.5 million contract, Cine’s dead cap hit looks like it would be worse than Walters projected.

According to Over the Cap, Cine would cost $6.791 million to release this year, due to his base salaries for the next two seasons being fully guaranteed. That may be too large of a loss for the Vikings to cut him.

Come training camp, the Vikings will have to ask whether the 53rd player on the roster is worth the cost of cutting Cine versus giving him the final roster spot. He would carry the eighth-largest cap hit for not being with the team anymore and contribute to over $60 million in dead cap.

The Vikings have taken on that dead cap, largely from parting ways with Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, to free up their finances for the 2025 season — which may be enough of a motivator to part ways with Cine early.

Ben Leber Senses Emotional Divide With Cine, Vikings

Lewis Cine

GettyVikings safety lewis Cine

While the questions continue to mount over why Cine hasn’t seen the field, former Vikings linebacker and KFAN sideline reporter Ben Leber offered what he’s observed since Cine came back from injury during a January 11 appearance on “The Power Trip” morning show.

From Leber:

I don’t know the inner workings of what’s going on… but here’s what I do observe. I’m questioning whether or not Lewis Cine is going to be on this team very long or in the NFL very long. When I watch him on the sidelines, whether he is dressed or not dressed, there is very little interaction that he has with his teammates… I see a guy that looks defeated. I don’t know why. I don’t know what’s going on in his personal life I don’t know what’s going on with his leg. You’ve seen guys come back from broken bones all the time. I don’t know the severity of how much his bone was broken… it was a significant injury, we have to give him that grace.

But there seems to be something emotionally detached that I’ve witnessed and observed… throughout the entirety that he’s been here. I give him as much grace as anybody coming off an injury. It is a depressing time to be injured to not connect with your team if you’ve played the game you’ve all been there but in this year where he’s been “healthy,” he’s been able to play in games where he’s been a healthy scratch, there’s just something not clicking.

Leber added in a separate podcast appearance that Cine had struggled to pick up Flores’ playbook.

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