Free AgencyTransaction

Homegrown: Marcus Sherels Signs a Much-Earned Deal, Stays with Minnesota

Since 2010, NFL cornerback Marcus Sherels has played on a season-by-season basis.  Each summer that Sherels makes it through the Vikings training camp and onto the roster, it is a small victory for the 26-year-old.

This season is a different story.

Sherels proves first-hand that hard work and determination will go a long way in this league.  As stated in an earlier VT posting, Sherels found himself signing a multi-year contract with the Vikes. Sherels was a restricted free agent at the timehe was also the first FA Minnesota signed.  The new deal will give him $2.2 million over the next two seasons, including a $300,000 signing bonus.

A native of Minnesota, Sherels attended John Marshall High School in Rochester. He then went on to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers, earning a scholarship after initially joining the football program as a walk on.

Sherels did not find an easy path to the NFL.  In fact, he went undrafted in 2010. Minnesota signed him to the practice squad during the 2010 preseason but cut him before the end of the month to make room for tight end John Nalbone. On October 13, however, Sherels was re-signed to the practice squad and Nalbone released.

He was on the team, but he didn’t get to play.  Sherels waited patiently.  Almost symbolically, he got his break on New Years Day, 2011. The Gophers alum found himself bumped to the active 53-man roster after safety Madieu Williams landed on IR with a nagging neck injury.

Sherels recorded his first NFL touchdown on September 30, 2012—ironically, his 25th birthday. The TD came on a 77-yard punt return against the Detroit Lions in a game that ended in a 20-13 win for Minny.

Marcus Sherels photo
(photo credit:

Sherels barely made the cut to stay with Minnesota in 2011 and 2012, putting up the bare minimum in tackles and minutes on the field.  At only 5’10” and 175 lbs, Sherels proved one of the smallest guys on the depth chart.

Despite his lesser size and stats, however, something about No. 35 continued to intrigue Vikings fans and coaches alike.

No matter what his role, Sherels gave 110 percent in every opportunity he was given. His breakaway speed could not be denied, and he began to stand out on special teams.

During the 2013-2014 season, Sherels cemented himself as a vital part of the Vikings roster.  Sherels missed Minnesota’s first preseason game after his father passed away; after spending time with his family back home, he returned to play in the thirdand finalpreseason game against Tennessee. That night, Sherels ran the opening kickoff back 109 yards for a touchdown and intercepted a pass later in the game.

Not only did the CB tally 46 tackles over the season (more than the previous three years combined), but he posted the highest punt return average (15.2 yds) in franchise history. Over 16 games, he returned 22 punts for 335 yards and one touchdown.  Sherels is still young, and his work ethic and determination have impacted not only coaches but his teammates, as well.  Vikings DE Brian Robison described Sherels as a “great guy [who] works hard and always shows up in a big way.”

Former Vikings LB Ben Leber, who played with Sherels during the 2010-2011 season, defines the CB as “tough” and a “humble leader.” Leber said, “Sherels has a subtle tenacity with which he works [on the team].”

According to an article by Pioneer Press’ Chris Tomasson, Sherel’s agent Chris Murray said the following:

“It’s hard to find a utility guy that can do all [of what Sherels can do] and that you can trust, especially on the punt side.  It’s hard to find a comparable [player] to him. When you look around the league, a lot of those guys are just purely returners.”

The deal includes just $500,000 of guaranteed money, which does protect the Vikings if performance falls and they decide to part with Sherels over the next two years.

If history has any credibility, though, you can bet that Sherels will do nothing but get better.

There’s no doubt about it – Sherels has earned this contract with Minnesota.



“[Sherels is a] modern day Rudy. Lacks elite CB skills but makes up for it with his determination and punt-return skills.  Good teammate, better Viking!”

Kevin Jackson (Ontario, Canada) @Kjax54


“Great re-sign! [Sherels] showed he was a top punt returner and competent corner.  Great speed and athleticism. Great option for a back-up and ST player.”

– Zach McClellan (Roseville, MN) @Zdiddles


“I feel that the Vikes re-signing Sherels is a good thing. It shows that with determination and perseverance you can achieve anything, as long as you believe in yourself.  His story can uplift a lot of people who are going through and or went through the same thing he did.”

Corey Williams (Milwaukee, WI) @corey_vikes



March 7 proved to be an overall good day for the Sherels family.  On the same day that Marcus re-signed with the Vikings, his older brother Mike celebrated a promotion to linebackers coach at the University of Minnesota.  Mike also played for the Gophers, although he joined the squad as a walk-on.  The Star Tribune‘s Jim Souhan tweeted the family occasion:


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Lindsey Young

Lindsey Young (Featured Columnist) is a graduate of University of Northwestern – St. Paul and is an avid Minnesota sports fan[atic]. It’s been argued females don’t know much about sports, but she begs to differ. Her work has been featured on Bleacher Report,, and Fox Sports North. In addition to her work with VT, Lindsey is a contributing writer for Canis Hoopus, runs a bi-monthly fan feature for and is a freelance writer for You can read her blog at Making the Call and follow her on Twitter.

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  1. With Captain Munnerlyn being a punt returner, are Sherels days numbered? That would make this signing a waste of money.

    1. I agree with you WTF. Seems like this a redundant signing. Hope there the cap hit is minimal if he is cut. We could have taken this money and put it to better use IMHO.

  2. Sherels last 54 punt returns – 2 TDs with 11.5 average.
    The Captain has 0 TDs in 75 punt returns… 9.0 ave

  3. Sherel’s story is a good example of hard work paying off. I think it passes on to other players on the defense as well. Sherel’s attitude will be exactly what Zim is looking for on his new team. As for Munnerlyn taking over punts. Captain didn’t return any punts in 2013, and only 14 in 2012. He has never returned a punt for a TD; Sherel’s has 2 (one in 2012 and one 2013). With those 14 punts Munerlyn averaged a 5.1 yd ret. avg. In 2012 Sherel’s avg. was 8.9. Sherel’s’ 2013 yd. ret. avg. was 15.2 yds.(setting a Vikings record for highest avg. yds./punt ret.) If you go back to 2011 Munerlyn avg was 10.9 yds., Sherel’s was 8.4 yds. In the last couple of years Sherels wins in every category. Preifer also had praise for Sherel’s in last years camp, when the Vikings were trying out lots of returners ( including Cordarrelle Patterson). Preifer said no one was as reliable handling the ball as Sherel’s. Last year I was hoping that the Vikings would cut Sherel’s and keep Bobby Felder; it didn’t happen and now Felder is gone. Since then Sherel’s has grown on me, and I think he’s underrated. His contract is small, about 1.1 million a year I think, so it’s hardly breaking the bank. He adds dependable, if not good depth in the secondary. And if his return numbers stay above 10 yds/ret., and with Preifer liking Sherels back there, I think it serves the team well. Kind of a don’t fix it if it isn’t broken type of attitude. Especially considering how many things were broken and need fixing on this team.

      1. Yes, obviously if someone is better and younger they should get Marcus’s spot. But the you still need to find a punt returner and another CB. Looking at PFF’s grades for CBs. I don’t know how much stock to give them, but Sherels had a higher end of season grade than Robinson, Cox (new guy from San Diego), and Chris Cook. He is also ahead of “Peanut ” Tillman and Antonio Cromartie. I referred to this list for those numbers. Although Sherels isn’t highly rated, I think he provides more than just being an ok corner. I don’t think you improve upon Sherels without spending more than what Sherels is making. If the Vikings use their number 8 pick on a corner, he will still make more than Sherels and is an unknown commodity. I feel, for the price, Sherels is worth retaining, considering his influence on special teams. If he only played cornerback I think it would be an easy decision to try to replace him. I think him being the first FA signing of the Vikes also shows the team values him as well.

  4. My opinion and gut feeling is that Munnerlyn will get more overall field time than Sherels, but I believe Sherels will still be utilized heavily on special teams/punt returns. I guess we’ll see what direction Zimmer takes all of this!

  5. I was worried he would go to a better team for more monies too. Anyone knocking this kid is not a true vikings fan. He’s an underdog and a hometown champ I felt bad for him last year in CB trying to take down the big wideouts 100lbs his size just shows the true work ethic he has when the coach should have let him catch a breath but we had no depth at all on that defense. With some finesse he could be an elite punt returner because he’s fast and twitchy very small and hard to catch. Just keep an eye on him and you’ll be glad he’s with us. Also my condolences to his family for the loss of his father he was right back out fighting 100% each and every play not getting DWIs and drug charges like others glad to have ya back Marcus.