Marcus Sherels leaves Vikings for one-year deal with Saints

Minnesota Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels (35) returns a punt during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Dec. 16, 2018. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Vikings cornerback Marcus Sherels (35) returns a punt during the third quarter against the Miami Dolphins at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis on Dec. 16, 2018. Brace Hemmelgarn / USA TODAY Sports

EAGAN, Minn. -- After nine seasons, Marcus Sherels is leaving the Vikings.

A source said Thursday, March 21 the free-agent cornerback and return specialist will sign a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints. Terms were not immediately available on Sherels, who made $1.4 million last season with the Vikings.

A source said the Vikings wanted to bring Sherels back but he chose to go to the Saints because he believes they have a good chance at winning the Super Bowl. About half a dozen teams showed interest in Sherels.

Sherels joined the Vikings in 2010 after being undrafted out of the University of Minnesota. He was the team’s longest-tenured player, along with defensive end Everson Griffen, who also was a rookie in 2010.

Sherels has been one of the NFL’s top punt returners. He averaged 12.0 yards per return last season, the fourth time he had averaged 11 or more yards in a season.

The Vikings now must look for another punt returner. Cornerback Mike Hughes and wide receivers Chad Beebe and Brandon Zylstra can return punts. And running back Ameer Abdullah said earlier this week he could be a potential returner even though he’s never returned a punt in his four NFL seasons.

Sherels is the third Vikings player since the start of free agency last week to join the Saints. Previously, running back Latavius Murray and offensive lineman Nick Easton signed with New Orleans.