This Is the Most Fascinating Part of the Vikings Summer

Viking Deserves More
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Minnesota Vikings training camp commences in about four weeks as the franchise hopes to maintain its status atop the NFC North in 2023.

Oddsmakers believe Minnesota will finish in second place behind the Detroit Lions, but they said that last year, too, when the Vikings played second fiddle to the Green Bay Packers per summer projections.

This Is the Most Fascinating Part of the Vikings Summer

Various aspects of the Vikings summers are undoubtedly intriguing, like Danielle Hunter’s contractual status, the maturation of rookie quarterback Jaren Hall, and the how much + when of Justin Jefferson’s eventual contract extension.

But none are more fascinating than the developmental progression of Andrew Booth and Lewis Cine — here’s why.

Booth + Cine a Necessity This Time

the Most Fascinating
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Last year, Andrew Booth and Lewis Cine could reasonably be classified as roster gravy. That ain’t gonna cut it anymore.

Heading into 2022, the Vikings employed Patrick Peterson, Cameron Dantzler, and [later] Duke Shelley at cornerback, so Booth’s maturation could marinate, if needed. And that it did.

Booth hardly played because of various injuries, and he looked lost when he was on the field in those limited moments. Vikings fans shrugged and thought, “At least we have Peterson and Shelley.”

Well, Peterson and Shelley don’t work here any longer. It’s a roster necessity for Booth to contribute, unlike last year.

Meanwhile, Cine fits the same criteria but to a lesser degree. He broke his leg last October but has since barnstormed his recovery and is apparently in tip-top shape some eight months later. Yet, Minnesota employs Harrison Smith — his job is not in question — Camryn Bynum and Josh Metellus. Based on Cine’s 1st-Round draft stock, he should easily surmount Bynum and Metellus on the depth chart.

If Cine does precisely that, he’ll earn the free safety job — and boom — the Vikings will have two 1st-Round safeties at the back of the defense. Should Cine fail to knock off Bynum or Metellus, then fans are left hoping Bynum or Metellus is actually good. Bynum and Metellus will forever be ‘maybes’ concerning a starter’s output; Cine, as a 1st-Rounder, should be a sure thing.

If Not Now — When?

Fears Confirmed: Vikings Rookie Lost for Season
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Rookie campaigns for Booth and Cine somewhat quickly went pear-shaped because of injury. Those maladies weren’t their fault, and they got a mulligan.

Get-out-of-jail-free cards have vanished.

The grace period expired — injury or no injury — regarding both players’ long-term success. If we arrive at Week 1 versus the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and neither Booth nor Cine receive meaningful defensive snaps, there will be a problem. It won’t be a good look.

Folks will wonder what the hell are they doing on the bench if men like Joejuan Williams or Josh Metellus keep them off the field.

An Early Kwesi Litmus Test

Overhauled Teams
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Alas, the red meat.

Booth and Cine could easily navigate July and August, slicing and dicing their way through camp battle to win starting jobs. That’s the plan. However, if one or both men find the bench in September, it will imply that general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah’s ability to scout and draft is iffy — to say the least.

Minnesota could’ve drafted Baltimore Ravens defender Kyle Hamilton 14 months ago if it wanted a safety that badly. Hamilton ranked as the NFL’s best safety in 2022, per Pro Football Focus. But nope — Adofo-Mensah traded back for Cine.

Any semblance of Booth or Cine not winning starters’ jobs or snatching regular season playing time won’t bode well for Adofo-Mensah’s wherewithal to nail the draft. Of course, GMs can improve, but the immediate prognosis would be one or two swings-and-misses from his first draft.

Booth and Cine need a productive summer — enough to command and demand snaps within the 2023 defense. The Vikings require their immediate progression. So does Adofo-Mensah, as an executive.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sal Spice. His Vikings obsession dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ Basset Hounds, and The Doors (the band).

All statistics provided by Pro Football Reference / Stathead; all contractual information provided by