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Why the Vikings May Move On from Lewis Cine

Tough situation for the Vikings and Cine

Kansas City Chiefs v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

One of the biggest frustrations with the new regime has been the first-round pick of Lewis Cine after moving down in a trade with the Lions. Cine’s rookie year was cut short early on with a gruesome foot injury suffered in a Week 4 London game last season. Cine was not in-line to become a starter at that point, in fact he seemed to be no higher than fourth on the safety depth chart, behind Harrison Smith, Cam Bynum, and Josh Metellus.

I’ve often thought that injuries early in a players rookie year are often more difficult for them to come back from, as it cuts them off from development at a key time in their career. Cine was able to come back from his injury after a year of rehab, but he didn’t make any progress this offseason in moving up the depth chart. In fact, based on regular season snap counts, Cine appears to be behind Smith, Bynum, Metellus, and Theo Jackson, a former 6th round pick the Vikings acquired from the Titans.

Cine played a total of 10 snaps on defense for the Vikings over the past two seasons- and only 8 this season when he’s been healthy. He’s played on special teams as well- 84 snaps this season- but that isn’t much from a healthy first-round draft pick. And there really doesn’t seem like there is any plan for Cine to move up the depth chart or have a larger role, either. The coaching staff hasn’t had much to say about Cine when asked about him, other than he’s had a tough break and difficult road back from injury and is working hard. There has been no talk of him getting more snaps or his being ready for a larger role.

All of the above is troubling enough for Cine’s future with the Vikings, but some observations from Ben Leber, a former Vikings linebacker who works for the Vikings as a sideline analyst, had some insights into Cine that are more troubling still. He said in a recent radio interview on KFAN that Cine has very little interaction with the team on the sideline, and that’s been the case for quite a while. He doesn’t talk much with teammates, and his teammates don’t talk to him much either.

Is it Time for the Vikings to Part Ways with Cine?

All of the above points to a tough situation for both Cine and the Minnesota Vikings, who is under a first-round pick contract through 2025. In 2024, Cine is a $3.134 million salary cap hit with a $4.022 dead cap hit. In 2025, he’s a $3.657 million salary cap hit. On the one hand, the Vikings would probably want to give Cine a chance to rebound from his injury and realize the potential he showed in college at Georgia. On the other hand, the likelihood of that appears to be slim at best right now.

Keeping Cine on the roster not only takes up a valuable roster spot, but he’s also paid about 3x what he’s worth as a special teamer. It would add almost $1 million to the 2024 Vikings’ salary cap to cut Cine once the league year starts, and it’s unclear if any team would be willing to trade a conditional 7th round pick for Cine (which would save the Vikings any deadcap hit), but at this point it may be best for both sides if the Vikings moved on from Cine and he get a new opportunity in new surroundings.


Should the Vikings keep Lewis Cine on their roster in 2024?

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