Our friend Christopher Gates over at SB Nation’s Daily Norseman on the Minnesota Vikings, was kind enough to answer a few questions about one of the new additions to the New Orleans Saints: PR Marcus Sherels.
Vikings Twitter seems to be mixed on the departing Sherels, with some adamantly lamenting the loss, while others seem to celebrate it. What gives?
Frankly, I think the loss of Sherels is right up there with the biggest losses that the Vikings dealt with this offseason. People seem to take punt returners for granted or just think that they can stick anyone fast back there and that they can do the job. Sherels was never the fastest or most athletic, but he shows outstanding judgement and sure hands whenever he’s back there fielding punts. He knows when to go for a return and when to signal for a fair catch, and I don’t think you can understate the importance of that. There are a lot of people on Vikings Twitter that are saying that his loss isn’t a huge issue, but I’m certainly not among those people.
The Saints have long struggled in the return game. What is the team getting with the addition of Sherels?
The Saints are getting one of the best and most consistent punt return specialists in the NFL. Like I said in the previous answer, Sherels knows when he should try to take his shot and when to play it safe. He’s not Devin Hester or anything, but he’s going to give you a few big returns and just be an overall steady presence. He’s also incredibly underrated as a punt gunner, and I’d assume that the Saints are going to use him in that capacity, too.
It looks like Sherels predominately returns only punts. Is he just not cut out for returning kickoffs?
I think part of it has to do with the fact that the Vikings have just had really good kickoff returners for the majority of Sherels’ time in Minnesota. When he first made the team, the Vikings had Percy Harvin handling kickoffs, and he was one of the NFL’s best. When Harvin left for Seattle, he was replaced with Cordarrelle Patterson, who was (and probably still is) the best kick return guy in the league. By the time Patterson left, the NFL had de-emphasized the kick return so much that I’m assuming the Vikings didn’t want to risk putting Sherels back there for that, electing to save him for punt returns. So, a lot of it has been just being behind players that have been top-notch kickoff returners. He has gotten some opportunities to do it, but for those reasons those opportunities have been limited.
The Saints were able to add Sherels on a one-year deal for only $1.02 million, with only $90k guaranteed. Were you surprised to see Sherels walk away from Minnesota for what feels like so little?
That was a bit of a surprise, yes. Sherels brings so much to the table, and I was surprised to hear that it didn’t even sound like the Vikings made him an offer before he left. I certainly hope this move doesn’t come back to bite them at any point in 2019. I’m not sure how much longer Sherels has left, but barring finding a diamond in the rough, I think he’s going to leave a big hole in the Vikings’ special teams this year.
If called on in a pinch to play defense, can Sherels hold his own?
It’s been a while since Sherels was asked to play defense on a regular basis. He’s had his moments as a cornerback, but I don’t think it’s something that he should be asked to do regularly anymore. If Sherels is out there on defense for the Saints this season, their secondary is in a pretty dire situation, I think.
Thank-you, for taking the time to talk with us! Saints fans, make sure you check out their work over at Daily Norseman. You can follow them on Twitter at @DailyNorseman, and of course, as always, you can follow me on Twitter @dunnellz.