Vikings working to keep own free agents

Marcus Sherels (Tom Dahlin/Viking Update)

The Vikings made a couple of qualifying offers to restricted free agents and continue to talk with some of their own unrestricted free agents.

On the day the Vikings traded away their record-setting kick returner and receiver, Percy Harvin, they also made moves to keep their only other experienced kick returner and another cornerback.

The Vikings issued a $550,000 tender to exclusive-rights free agent Marcus Sherels, according to an NFL source, which should keep him with the Vikings or at least allow the team to match any offer he would receive from another team.

Sherels wasn't a big factor in the Vikings defense this year – he had five tackles and two quarterback hurries working in the nickel and dime defenses on a limited basis – but his main value came as a kickoff and punt returner. He was the only Viking to return a punt, averaging 9 yards on 32 returns, including a touchdown, and had 27 fair catches.

He was also the backup kickoff returner and took over the main job there after Harvin was lost for the final seven games of the regular season with an ankle injury. He returned 16 kickoffs for 422 yards, averaging 26.4 yards.

The Vikings also gave CB A.J. Jefferson, a restricted free agent, the low tender offer of $1.33 million on Monday. Since Jefferson was undrafted in 2010, the Vikings wouldn't receive any draft-pick compensation if he completes an offer from another team, but the Vikings would have the ability to match that offer.

Jefferson was a bigger contributor on defense, starting seven games and registering 31 tackles, 13 passes defensed and one fumble recovery.

In addition to Sherels, offensive lineman Troy Kropog and safety Andrew Sendejo are also exclusive-rights free agents for the Vikings.

The Vikings haven't signed any of their 10 unrestricted free agents yet, but they continue to talk with representatives from some of the more important ones.


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