Marcus Sherels’ unlikely run with the Vikings will stretch into a ninth season, thanks to his sixth different contract with the team.
The former undrafted free agent, who has become the Vikings’ all-time leader in punt return yards and touchdowns, signed a one-year contract to remain with the team in 2018, according to a league source. The deal keeps the 30-year-old — who worked as both a kick and punt returner in 2017 — among the team’s longest-tenured players, despite the fact he has never had a deal that covered more than three seasons.
Sherels returned a league-high 39 punts for 372 yards last year, posting a 9.5-yard average that dipped from a 2016 season that ranked among the best of his career. That season, Sherels returned an NFL-best two punts for touchdowns, and averaged 13.9 yards per return.
It remains to be seen whether the former Gophers and Rochester John Marshall athlete will be the Vikings’ kick returner again in 2018. He stepped into the role last year after Cordarrelle Patterson signed with the Raiders, and averaged 24.6 yards per return. Sherels’ best kick return was only 32 yards, as the Vikings lost some of the field position advantage they had enjoyed in previous years with Patterson.
His sure-handedness and resourcefulness on punt returns, though, has long made him a favorite of special teams coordinator Mike Priefer, and Vikings defensive coaches have praised the cornerback’s technique and practice habits as being among the team’s best. The 5-10, 175-pound Sherels played only 20 defensive snaps last year, in a pair of comfortable victories over the Rams and Bengals, but has broken up 12 passes in his career, in addition to forcing eight fumbles and recovering six.
Sherels is the second of the Vikings’ unrestricted free agents to re-sign with the team, joining kicker Kai Forbath.