Local Insider Doesn’t Expect Lewis Cine to Make 2024 Minnesota Vikings Roster

Lewis Cine, Vikings
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Three years into his career, drafting Lewis Cine might be the biggest mistake of Minnesota Vikings GM Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s career. So far.

Cine was the team’s first draft pick in the post-Rick Spielman era, joining the Vikings as the 32nd overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. But his addition would come only after the Vikings executed a deal with the Detroit Lions, trading down from the 12th pick, sliding down 20 slots.

The move wasn’t well-liked at the time, not only because the Vikings seemingly helped the Lions get their top target (Jameson Williams) but also because it meant missing out on top safety prospect Kyle Hamilton, who has since become an All-Pro talent in Baltimore.

But none of that would have mattered, if only Cine had developed into even a starting-caliber safety, to lessen the blow. That hasn’t been the case, however.

Lewis Cine struggles since being drafted by Minnesota Vikings

Lewis Cine, Minnesota Vikings
Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Cine had trouble climbing the depth chart early as a rookie, where he was largely relegated to special teams duties before suffering a gruesome compound fracture in his left leg playing on synthetic turf in London. Cine’s first season was done after just three games and two total snaps on defense (34 on special teams).

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Yet, Cine’s second NFL season didn’t go much better (seven games played, eight total snaps on defense). Now blocked by Josh Metellus, who blossomed into a star, while also being suffocated by the likes of Harrison Smith and Cam Bynum, Cine’s chance to earn playing time diminished entirely. But it’s not like there weren’t opportunities.

Alec Lewis would be ‘surprised’ if Lewis Cine makes Vikings roster

Now that all the dust has settled on the 2024 NFL Draft, complete with 17 undrafted free agent signings by the Vikings, we’re able to take a deeper look at Minnesota’s roster.

On Thursday, Alec Lewis, The Athletic’s Vikings insider, released a new roster projection for the 2024 season in which he predicted Lewis Cine would be left off the final 53.

“This is probably the most trusted position group on the roster. Smith, Bynum, Metellus, Jackson and Ward are essentially shoo-ins. 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.”

Alec Lewis on Lewis Cine’s chances to make Vikings roster

To some, this comes as no surprise. As mentioned, Cine just hasn’t seen the field much (10 total snaps on defense, 118 on special teams). Injuries are certainly a factor, but the Vikings can’t keep him on the roster simply because of where he was drafted, especially when others have surpassed him on the depth chart.

Cine could very well be cut, but expect the Vikings to try finding a trade partner for the 24-year-old instead. Obviously, any offer wouldn’t be very enticing. Minnesota probably couldn’t fetch anything more than a future late-round pick (5th-7th round).

Even when the Vikings have found themselves short on secondary defenders, they haven’t turned to Cine. Brian Flores turned to Theo Jackson instead. Jackson, a 2022 sixth-round pick from the Titans, replaced Cine on the roster when he suffered his season-ending injury as a rookie, and he’s yet to give the job back.

Related: Top 10 Minnesota Vikings 1st Round Draft Picks of All-Time (Not Lewis Cine)

The Vikings also added another safety in last year’s draft, selecting Jay Ward in the fourth round, adding even more competition to one of the team’s deepest positions. The Vikings’ safety depth is a great ‘problem’ to have, but it could end up costing their 2022 first-round pick his roster spot.

Right now, Cine looks like his most frequent appearance with the Vikings would be on their gameday inactive list. With a 2024 cap hit of $3.1 million, the Vikings would be better off using his roster spot elsewhere, and that might just be their plan this fall.

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