Vikings Rumors: Cine’s Next Step, Compensatory Catastrophe, and The Most Lucrative Move

Aug 19, 2023; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tennessee Titans running back Tyjae Spears (32) runs the ball as Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) looks to make the tackle during the first quarter at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Since we’re officially into the portion of the year when Vikings rumors are arriving fast and furious, we’ll be highlighting some of the purple rumblings.

The “Vikings Rumor Wrangle” is a series that keeps readers informed on what’s being whispered about in Vikings Land. In this iteration, we discuss Lewis Cine working toward the next step of his career, the compensatory picks being a bit light, and Minnesota’s most lucrative cap savings option.

Vikings Rumors: 05.08.2024

Rumor #1 — Lewis Cine’s is Entering a Pivotal Offseason as His Career Takes its Next Step

There were no additions at safety, but Lewis Cine is still facing increased competition.

Minnesota opted to retain a half dozen safeties in 2023. At least part of the reason for the hearty helping is because of the corner position not being overly formidable. Veteran addition Byron Murphy Jr. was joined by a pile of youth — Andrew Booth Jr., Akayleb Evans, Mekhi Blackmon — alongside some depth players with a lot to prove.

Jul 27, 2022; Eagan, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings safety Lewis Cine (6) performs a drill at TCO Performance Center. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

Fast forward to the present-day Vikings and things look different at CB. All four of the previously mentioned corners are still around, but Shaq Griffin and Khyree Jackson have been added to the mix, as well. Both of these new additions have a great shot to make the final roster.

Add it all together and Cine is stepping into some fierce competition. The top safety trio of Harrison Smith, Josh Metellus, and Camryn Bynum isn’t going anywhere. Last year, Theo Jackson and Jay Ward were above Cine on the depth chart. Is there still room for Cine, someone who has played 10 career snaps on defense and who was inactive for 10 games last year?

Rumor #2 — The Vikings’ Comp Pick Strategy was a Catastrophe

Catastrophe is an overstatement, but the multi-syllabic words alongside the alliteration make it pretty catchy (the shared “t” and “a” sounds hold it together). Maybe the Vikings erred, but we’re far from disaster.

Per Nick Korte, the Vikings are very likely to snag a 3rd-round selection as a result of Kirk Cousins becoming a Falcon. And while Danielle Hunter could have also resulted in another 3rd coming over, the addition of corner Shaq Griffin neutralized the pick.

Korte’s analysis: “The Vikings were expected to possibly see two players, Kirk Cousins and Danielle Hunter, leave the team for top tier deals elsewhere, and that is what happened. The Vikings also lost several other CFAs, but were also aggressive in signing CFAs of their own to offset some of those departures. Nonetheless, they had at least balanced this to where the 3rd rounders for both Cousins and Hunter leaving were on the board...until they signed Shaquill Griffin to a one year, $4.55 million contract, leaving the Vikings with a net loss of only 1 CFA, giving the formula no choice but to cancel out Hunter’s contract with Griffin’s.”

Oct 29, 2023; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers tight end Stephen Sullivan (84) catches the ball as Houston Texans cornerback Shaquill Griffin (0) defends in the second quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Part of the calculus in Eagan must have been that Dalton Risner would get scooped up for a large(ish) deal prior to the draft. In that scenario, another 3rd may have been sent to Minnesota. Instead, the left guard remains on the free agent market.

Korte explores the thought: “Another possibility is that the Vikings, like many, expected Dalton Risner to sign a contract before the draft–but unbelievably, this is the second straight season he has failed to do so. But as I see it now, the best chance the Vikings could have to get the Hunter 3rd is if Oli Udoh starts the whole season on the offensive line for the Saints. Even more daunting would be if Josh Dobbs somehow starts the whole season for the 49ers.”

The NFL’s comp pick masterminds are part of an enigmatic crew. Maybe something funky happens and a second pick gets shipped to Minnesota, but the best guess is that it’ll be a single 3rd. Better than nothing?

Rumor #3 — The Vikings’ Single Most Lucrative Cap Move Involves Justin Jefferson

Get the trade possibility out of your mind. It’s not happening.

Shipping out the wide receiver is technically the correct answer since Justin Jefferson’s entire $19,743,000 could come off the books. The issue is simply that the option isn’t that: an option. Minnesota is heading toward a pair of possible paths: extending the receiver or moving into the season without an extension done (with the possibility of the franchise tag afterwards).

For the sake of argument, let’s assume Adofo-Mensah and Jefferson’s representation meet in the middle by solidifying an extension. What kind of cap savings could the Vikings get in 2024?

Aug 10, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin OÕConnell and Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Justin Jefferson (18) during warmups prior to the game at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Per OTC, Minnesota could toss close to $15 million back into the present-day budget. More specifically, there could be a savings of $14,894,400.

Apart from trading away Justin Jefferson — again, not happening — there’s only a single other move that could clear more room for the cap in 2024. Trading Brian O’Neill after June 1st — something that won’t occur — narrowly takes the cake with a potential savings of $14,911,765.

At worst, Jefferson is a top-3 receiver in the NFL, but it’s hard to make a great case that he isn’t in the top spot. Stepping back to consider the league as a whole points to a situation where he’s probably among the game’s top 15 best players. At 24, Jefferson may still be ascending, which is a scary thought if you’re a defensive coordinator for one of the teams on Minnesota’s schedule.

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.