As the Minnesota Vikings continue building towards a serious playoff push in 2013, the team has added another small-yet-significant piece to the puzzle.
On Monday, the Vikings re-signed exclusive rights free agent cornerback Marcus Sherels, who doubles as Minnesota’s primary punt returner. The subtle sparkplug returns on a one-year, $555,000 deal after the team tendered him back in March.
Sherels, 25-years-old, has spent the last three seasons with the Vikings after going undrafted in 2010 out of the University of Minnesota. He is one of the only players to ever earn a roster spot after attending a local prospects tryout.
Throughout his three years in Minnesota, Sherels has amassed 36 tackles, a sack and four defended passes while serving as a backup cornerback. His bigger impact has come on special teams, where he has accumulated 1,431 combined yards on kick and punt returns. Sherels scored his first –and only – career touchdown on a 77-yard punt return last season against the Detroit Lions.
While Sherels will never be a starting-caliber cornerback, the Vikings still see plenty of value in him as a return specialist. Especially after the loss of Percy Harvin this offseason, Minnesota needs a reliable return man such as Sherels who help ease the pain.
Assuming he continues to develop as a cornerback, Sherels should also see some extended snaps on the defensive side of the ball. The Vikings no longer have Antoine Winfield to lock down the nickel spot, so Sherels should earn a larger role as long as another cornerback isn’t added via the 2013 NFL Draft.
Sherels is a fan favorite and welcomed re-signing for the Vikings.