Light Bulbs Just Aren’t Turning On for Lewis Cine or Andrew Booth Jr.

Lewis Cine
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

We’re coming up on the third NFL season for Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr., the first two NFL draft picks general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah selected once he gained control of the Minnesota Vikings. So far, neither defender has given any reason to believe they’ll live up to their lofty draft position.

For Cine, that means looking like a first-round pick, thanks to being the 32nd player selected in 2022. Considering he has at least three safeties ahead of him on the depth chart, playing time won’t be easy to find. Hell, making the 53-man roster looks like it could be a real challenge.

For Booth, the former No. 42 overall pick, it means earning a role in a crowded yet open cornerback room that’s eager to find reliable starters. While their draft pedigree may have kept Booth and Cine on the Vikings’ roster during their first two seasons, only production can save them heading into 2024.

Minnesota Vikings insider: Light bulbs aren’t turning on for Lewis Cine or Andrew Booth

Lewis Cine, Minnesota Vikings
Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

That’s why there is ever increasing doubt surrounding the likelihood that either of Cine or Booth are able to escape roster cuts later this summer, when the Vikings trim from 90 players down to 53 (plus a 16-man practice squad) later this summer.

Several local Minnesota Vikings insiders are starting to question whether Cine and Booth are even worth keeping on the roster. Andrew Krammer (Star Tribune) became the most recent reporter to pedal doubt about the two 2022 draft picks making the final 53-man, during his latest Access Vikings podcast.

“The phrase that I’ve heard behind the scenes is the the light bulb is not going on with [Lewis Cine and Andrew Booth Jr.] specifically. This is getting to be the time where you question whether or not Cine and Booth are going to make the roster. They have to cut their teeth on special teams. They have to earn those roles. If the special teams coordinator can’t use you, that’s the death knell. That means you can’t be used pretty much anywhere.

So it might need to be a fresh start for Lewis somewhere else, and maybe that fresh start comes as quickly as this fall, or potentially the same for Andrew Booth. But these guys are also incredibly intriguing athletes, and maybe they’re certainly hoping for another step in training camp before they have to make those decisions on whether or not to cut those guys.”

Vikings insider Andrew Krammer on Lewis Cine, Andrew Booth

Lewis Cine has played just 10 games since being drafted, and he’s rarely seen the field on defense, playing a grand total of 10 defensive snaps. He hasn’t played much more on special teams either, seeing just 118 snaps across the past two seasons.

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Andrew Booth has gotten a bit more playing time, including playing in all 17 games last year, totaling 256 snaps on defense over his first two seasons. Yet, when the Vikings drafted the 6-foot cornerback out of Clemson, they envisioned him quickly becoming a starter. Instead, he’s started just two out of the 23 games he’s played.

Minnesota Vikings could cut their losses with Cine, Booth

Cine has had to watch several other safeties jump ahead of him on the depth chart, including a former sixth-round pick in Theo Jackson. In addition to Harrison Smith, Cam Bynum, and Josh Metellus, Cine is also competing with 2023 fourth-round pick Jay Ward. Yet, Cine ($3.1M) is paid much more than Ward ($1M) and Jackson ($900K).

If other safeties are better, yet getting paid less, then what’s the point of having Cine on the roster? There isn’t one, especially if you have given up on Cine’s long-term future as a viable NFL starting safety. You can find depth safeties after final cuts who would make better depth pieces than Lewis Cine.

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The same goes for Booth, who earns a bit less at $2.2 million, but that’s still a million more than Mekhi Blackmon and Akayleb Evans, both of whom have passed Booth on the depth chart.

Buried on a cornerback depth chart that features several players who have been specifically signed to fit defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ system, Booth could very well find himself on the outside looking in when it comes time to trim the roster later this fall.

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