For the past few seasons, one of the primary topics of debate for Minnesota Vikings fans during Training Camp was whether or not this would be the year that the team finally replaces punt returner Marcus Sherels.
Sadly, we won’t have to worry about having that debate this year.
Numerous sources are reporting that Sherels has agreed to a one-year contract with the New Orleans Saints. He becomes the third member of the Vikings to head to The Big Easy this offseason, following running back Latavius Murray and center Nick Easton.
After an outstanding career at the University of Minnesota, Sherels came to the Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2010. He spent that year on the practice squad, and became a fixture on the 53-man roster in 2011. While he did play a little bit at cornerback, his calling card was on special teams, specifically as a punt returner.
Sherels is, quite easily, the best punt returner in Minnesota Vikings history. He has five punt return touchdowns, tied for the most return touchdowns in Vikings’ history with Cordarrelle Patterson and Percy Harvin (though it should be noted that Harvin and Patterson’s scores all came on kickoff returns, while Sherels’ touchdowns were all on punt returns).
Sherels holds numerous other franchise records for punt returns, including the highest average yards per punt return in team history (15.2 in 2013), the most punt return yards in a game (119 on 21 October 2013), and the first Vikings’ player to have multiple games with more than 100 yards in punt returns, a feat he accomplished three times.
It kind of feels like the end of an era, as Sherels was one of the longest-tenured members of the Vikings. He and Everson Griffen both joined the team in 2010, though Sherels didn’t make the 53-man roster until the final game of that season. Hopefully the Vikings have a solid contingency plan in place to replace him, as he’s been one of the NFL’s best punt return men for almost a decade now. . .something that definitely shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Best of luck to Marcus Sherels going forward. . .well, until the Vikings and the Saints get together again. They’re not currently scheduled to do so in 2019, but who knows, am I right?