Only 2 Outcomes Make Sense for Lewis Cine

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Minnesota Vikings fans have all but resigned to the fate of third-year safety Lewis Cine encountering a roster cut later this summer.

Only 2 Outcomes Make Sense for Lewis Cine

The Vikings employ six playable safeties aside from Cine, he broke his leg during his rookie season, and the Georgia alumnus and former 1st-Rounder has been a non-factor through two seasons. Therefore, as fans size up the 53-man roster for 2024, most concede that Cine is a goner.

However, cutting the man doesn’t make sense and would be financially silly. Only two outcomes should be in play per dollars and cents.

1. Play Him

These are the Vikings’ safeties on the current roster:

  • Harrison Smith
  • Camryn Bynum
  • Josh Metellus
  • Lewis Cine
  • Jay Ward
  • NaJee Thompson
  • Theo Jackson
lewis cine
Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports.

A crowded house to be sure, the club won’t keep seven safeties later this summer, even if it kept six last year. So, “play him” is easy advice from an outsider’s standpoint, but Cine will get paid no matter what. He earns 1st-Round guaranteed money, and Minnesota has no incentive to cut him. It would be on the hook for around $7 million in dead cap.

Cine has 2-3 years left on his rookie contract, and unless he’s a burden or detriment to the team, offloading him via roster cut is just silly. Meanwhile, the two safeties at the top of the ticket, Smith and Bynum, aren’t necessarily a shoo-in to be around in 2025. Smith could retire; Bynum is scheduled for free agency.

Lottery Ticket QB
Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

If analyzed from a money standpoint, the best solution is to retain Cine and utilize him on defense. After all, the man was the first draft pick of the Kwesi Adofo-Mensah era. Waiving him accomplishes nothing per the budget. Nothing at all.

2. Trade Him

Conversely, if Cine simply doesn’t have a place on the 53-man roster — not good enough for defense nor a special teams contributor — trading him would reduce the salary burden. The Vikings would be stuck with a $3 million bill instead of $7 million.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Adofo-Mensah could perhaps fetch a 7th-Rounder for his troubles, which is better than zilch, especially for a team that doesn’t have much of a 2025 draft class on deck. The Vikings traded most of the 2025 draft class for the draft pick that netted outside linebacker Dallas Turner.

Earlier in the offseason, we published an article that endorsed a straight-up trade involving Cine for Tennessee Titans’ Cine-like wide receiver Treylon Burks. Minnesota arguably needs a WR3, and Burks is tunneling toward special teams duty in Tennessee in 2024 — much like Cine in Minnesota.

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Adofo-Mensah knows Ran Carthon, the Titans’ general manager, from the San Francisco 49ers days. The two should do business and exchange Cine for Burks. The Titans could use some safety depth.

Otherwise, Minnesota could ship Cine elsewhere — maybe a team like the Dallas Cowboys — for a 7th-Rounder. The swap would save around $4 million and keep the 2025 budget with very little dead cap money more pristine.

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).

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