Vikings Predicted to Cut Former 1st-Round Pick to Avoid Losing Talent

Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, Minnesota Vikings

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

The Minnesota Vikings have given safety Lewis Cine two years, but with more depth on this year’s roster, the former first-round pick’s chances of making the roster are in question.

The Athletic’s Alec Lewis put together his post-minicamp depth chart heading into the summer months and predicted Cine will be cut.

“The Vikings kept six safeties last year, but the roster was not as deep as it is now. They might move forward with five this fall. If they do, Cine could be the odd man out,” Lewis wrote on June 11. “From a cap perspective, cutting him would mean money spent for no return. But the alternative is keeping him, cutting another potential contributor and losing that potential upside.”

The Vikings would have to eat $6.79 million in dead cap to release Cine due to his 2024 and 2025 salaries being fully guaranteed.

It’s hard to argue that the final roster spot is worth that much, but if the Vikings feel that their top 53 players all have more potential than Cine, it may be worth cutting their losses.

Theo Jackson Overtakes Lewis Cine as Vikings’ Successor to Harrison Smith

Lewis Cine

GettyVikings safety Lewis Cine

In a previous mailbag segment with The Athletic, Lewis noted that Cine had lost ground to Theo Jackson on the depth chart.

“Jackson is only 25. The Tennessee Titans drafted him in the sixth round, waived him and wanted to keep him, but the Vikings scooped him up. He is clearly the No. 4 safety on the depth chart and might be a future option post-Harrison Smith,” Lewis wrote in a May 24 mailbag segment.

The Vikings’ safety room is loaded with talent. Camryn BynumJosh Metellus and Harrison Smith all logged over 1,000 snaps last season as defensive coordinator Brian Flores has found ways to get his best players on the field.

Jackson was next up with 126 defensive snaps played across 15 games. Meanwhile, Cine played just eight snaps in one game last season and was a healthy scratch from the gameday roster several times late in the 2023 season.

It’s troubling that Flores, who got more out of the limited talent in the locker room, has not found a way to deploy Cine on the field.

Second-year defensive back Jay Ward has also shown more than Cine this spring and “stands out physically compared to a year ago, according to Lewis.

“This is probably the most trusted position group on the roster. Smith, Bynum, Metellus, Jackson and Ward are essentially shoo-ins,” Lewis wrote. “Cine’s overall explosiveness and acclimation to Flores’ defense will dictate whether or not he makes the team, but I’d be surprised if he beat out any of the other five.”

Vikings Roster Beginning to Outgrow 2022 Draft Class

Andrew Booth, Minnesota Vikings

GettyCornerback Andrew Booth Jr. #23 of the Minnesota Vikings.

The 2022 draft class is looking like a disappointment entering Year 3 of the new regime’s first draft class.

Cornerbacks Andrew Booth Jr. and Cine have yet to carve out significant roles in the secondary and appear to be passed up by younger talent. Akayleb Evans also appears to have fallen out of favor with Flores after being benched late last season.

Fourth-round linebacker Brian Asamoah showed promise his rookie year but was beaten out by undrafted rookie Ivan Pace Jr. last season. The arrival of Blake Cashman will make it hard for Asamoah to carve out a contributing role on defense.

Guard Ed Ingram is the only 2022 draftee who has held a starting role throughout his time in Minnesota.

These are good problems as the Vikings have built up their roster in recent years through successful drafting and free-agent spending.

However, it does suggest an impasse ahead for the first group the new Vikings regime tasked with their rebuild of the organization.

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