S Lewis Cine On Vikings’ Roster Bubble?

Lewis Cine has two years remaining on his rookie contract, but this summer could prove to be a pivotal point in his young NFL career. The Vikings safety is buried on the depth chart ahead of next month’s training camp.

Minnesota pulled off a first-round swap with Detroit during the first round of the 2022 draft. Cine was selected with the No. 32 pick, and he faced high expectations after enjoying a successful tenure at Georgia. Ahead of his rookie season, however, it was clear he faced a steep path to a starting workload. Cine’s debut campaign was cut short by a leg fracture which required two surgeries.

The 2023 season saw the 24-year-old log only seven games and eight defensive snaps, and an uptick in usage does not appear likely at this point. As ESPN’s Kevin Seifert notes, Cine found himself behind not only starters Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynumbut also backups Theo Jackson and Jay Ward on the depth chart this spring. Keeping in mind Josh Metellus‘ ability to wear many hats in the secondary, Cine faces plenty of competition for a roster spot. That is especially true given the team’s other moves in the secondary.

Minnesota signed Shaquill Griffin in free agency before adding Khyree Jackson in the fourth round of the draft. Those new cornerbacks will take up roster spots in addition to the aforementioned safeties, something which could leave Cine on the outside looking in during cutdowns. Training camp and the preseason will no doubt play a large role in how the team evaluates him.

As a former first-round pick, Cine’s base salaries for 2024 ($1.75MM) and ’25 ($2.27MM) are fully guaranteed. That could provide incentive for the Vikings to keep him in the fold, and a surprisingly involved and productive 2024 campaign could even give Minnesota reason to consider picking up his fifth-year option. Doing so would tie him to the team through 2026, but quite a bit would need to change over the coming weeks for Cine to receive any sustained looks on defense in the fall. His performances during camp will be worth monitoring.

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