Lewis Cine and The Problems with a Roster Cut

Lewis Cine Expresses Confidence and Patience in His Injury Recovery
Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

Lately, there hasn’t been a ton of optimism surrounding Lewis Cine.

The Georgia alumnus was supposed to bring speed and physicality to the back of Minnesota’s defense. Instead, he has struggled to get off the bench, at least partly due to an unfortunate leg break in his rookie season. Does he make the roster in a competitive Vikings defensive backfield? If not, what are the downsides?

Lewis Cine and The Problems with a Cut

The final chapter hasn’t been written for Mr. Cine.

Don’t forget that we’re talking about a 24-year-old player who was a highly-regarded prospect just two years ago. Turn back the clock to the summer of 2022 and optimism was the dominant feeling surrounding Mr. Cine. Yes, there have been struggles that have understandably led to skepticism, but there’s still talent present in the young safety.

Aug 20, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) lines up during the second quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Plus, there are financial ramifications to consider.

Cine carries a $3,134,770 cap charge for 2024. It’s the third year of his rookie deal that was assigned to him as the No. 32 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. What happens with a cut? Well, a post-June 1 cut would result in a cap charge that swells to $5,407,155.

Yes, that’s right: moving on from Cine — even on a post-June 1 basis — results in less cap room in Minnesota. Maybe Minnesota still thinks it’s worth it to turn the page and to open up a roster spot, but it’s a factor nonetheless.

Oh, and there will even be some dead money kicked over into the 2025 budget. Again, a factor to consider.

NFL: New York Jets at Minnesota Vikings
Dec 4, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Camryn Bynum (24) intercepts a pass during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

And then there’s the added context of the position.

Josh Metellus is arguably the top option as he enters the two years of the extension he signed last offseason. Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum, though, are on a year-by-year basis. In fact, the potential Bynum extension is a tricky one to sort through.

The next top option is Theo Jackson, someone who inspires hope for the position. Jackson is similarly working on just a single season deal.

Sep 14, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Theo Jackson (25) intercepts pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) during the first quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The point, folks, is that the 2025 safety room could result in Smith, Bynum, and Jackson all being gone. No, it’s not likely, but the lack of contract years beyond the current season opens that precise possibility. Would Minnesota feel better about their future if they knew they at least had Metellus, Cine, and Jay Ward to build around in their safety room?

Lewis Cine hasn’t had a good start to his NFL career. A cut is certainly possible. Understand, though, that the decision isn’t completely straightforward. Cine still has potential, there is a negative cap result, and the future of the position may need him.

Cine will turn 25 on October 5th.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.