Josh Metellus Has Saved the Safeties

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When the Minnesota Vikings drafted Lewis Cine with their first-round pick in 2022, it came on the back of some weird decisions. Now, as he sits inactive on a weekly basis, it has been the emergence of Josh Metellus that has saved the safety position alongside Harrison Smith.

Josh Metellus Has Saved the Safeties

Minnesota knew that, at some point, they would need to prepare for the departure of Harrison Smith. Whether that meant he would seek a payday elsewhere or head off into retirement, the end is much closer than the beginning. Cam Bynum has stepped up and begun to fill a void, but it was Lewis Cine that Kwesi Adofo-Mensah tabbed as the next starting safety for Kevin O’Connell’s team.

Metellus Has Saved
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That pick has been a colossal bust, but the development and maturation of the recently extended Josh Metellus has been nothing short of exceptional. This season, Metellus has started all 14 games for Brian Flores’ defense. He has racked up a whopping 93 tackles and has 2.5 sacks to his credit as well. His six tackles for loss represent how active he is at the line of scrimmage, and being deployed as a jack-of-all-trades player has been fun to watch.

While Smith has traditionally been the definition of a safety playing over the top and making sure that opposing pass catchers don’t beat the defense deep, Metellus has been anything but defined. His presence has been felt all over the field when he is lining up as a linebacker, working in coverage as a corner, rushing as an edge, or playing over the top.

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A similar style could have been envisioned when the Vikings drafted Cine out of Georgia. He wasn’t known for his great pass coverage as much as big hits and tackling ability were calling cards. Unfortunately, he suffered an ugly injury early on in his career that has certainly altered the growth of his game at the highest level, but he also hasn’t reached a point in which his value appears on the field.

Back in September, the Vikings signed Metellus to a two-year extension, and now, not even a full season later, he will have played well above what those dollars will come in at. The hope would be that the safety adheres to his obligations, but with a legitimate shot at a Pro Bowl, it wouldn’t be shocking if he’s looking for something a bit better as 2024 rolls around.

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Seeing Metellus’ impact on a game each week has been exciting, no matter what happens contractually. It would never feel good to hear that Smith put on the pads for the last time, but when that ultimately does become the case, the Vikings having Bynum and Metellus on the roster should soften the blow.

The NFL is often a league about the highest draft picks or gaudiest contracts, but sometimes the story is of an overlooked sixth-round pick who works his tail off and positions himself for an opportunity.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.