Rumor: Vikings’ Veteran WR Add Off to Humdrum Start

NFL: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills
Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Truth be told, the expectations never should have been very high for Trent Sherfield, the Vikings’ veteran WR who signed back in March.

Sherfield, 28, has good size at 6’1″, 205 but has been a journeyman throughout his career. Most recently, he was playing for the Bills, coming in behind Stefon Diggs and Gabriel Davis while putting up 11 receptions for 86 yards and a score. The word from The Athletic‘s Alec Lewis isn’t overly promising for Mr. Sherfield.

The Vikings’ Veteran WR Has Work to Do

In fairness, it’s basically a toss-away comment from Lewis, and yet it’s still one that’s revelatory.

The context is a 32-team article on The Athletic detailing an area of worry for each of the league’s teams. Within his broader response, Lewis talks about Brandon Powell, Jalen Nailor, and the void left behind by K.J. Osborn becoming a Patriot. The tidbit about Sherfield isn’t exactly a glowing endorsement for how things are going: “Trent Sherfield is another option, but he didn’t blow the staff away in OTAs.”

Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Trent Sherfield (16) celebrates a play against the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2024 AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Shortly thereafter, Lewis shifts into a brief consideration of FA possibilities at receiver. Sherfield doesn’t get much consideration apart from a note about him being underwhelming.

Prior to his most recent opportunity in The Land of 10,000 Lakes, Trent Sherfield has bounced around the NFL. Yes, there was the Buffalo assignment, but also assignments in Arizona, San Francisco, and Miami. Being a 49er and a Dolphin is especially notable since their offenses are going to have some similarities to what Kevin O’Connell is doing with the Vikings.

Originally, Sherfield entered the NFL as a UDFA back in 2018. The Cardinals brought him aboard and he actually got onto the field quite a bit while in the desert. His rookie year involved playing 13 games and starting a pair. He turned 28 targets into 19 catches, 210 yards, and 1 touchdown.

Dec 4, 2022; Santa Clara, California, USA; Miami Dolphins wide receiver Trent Sherfield (14) runs for a touchdown on the opening drive against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Otherwise, his most impressive season arrived when he was a Dolphin.

Working alongside Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle has its advantages. Sherfield finished the season third in Miami for receiving yards with 417 (Hill had 1,710, Waddle 1,356). The veteran did that damage across 30 catches, meaning he had a healthy 13.9 yards-per-catch average. He tossed on a career-high 2 touchdowns.

Part of what makes his output in Buffalo discouraging is that he was operating from within a reasonably loaded offense. Stefon Diggs was the WR1 and Davis is a pretty solid WR2. And then, of course, there’s Josh Allen flinging the pigskin. Even still, he averaged a measly 7.8 yards per catch, a career-low number.

The 611 snaps in Miami from 2022 dropped down to 392 snaps in Buffalo for 2023. Across basically all of his stops, Sherfield gets onto the field for special teams, boosting his chance of making the team.

NFL: AFC Divisional Round-Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills
Jan 21, 2024; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Jaylen Watson (35) breaks up a pass for Buffalo Bills wide receiver Trent Sherfield (16) in the first half of the 2024 AFC divisional round game at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Working in his favor is that he can be moved inside and outside. For his career, Sherfield has played 35.6% of his snaps in the slot and 63.9% of his snaps out wide. Minnesota would be asking him to demonstrate similar versatility if he were to snag one of the coveted spots on the 53-man roster. In 2023, the wide/slot snap difference was 304 out wide and then 176 in the slot.

Quarterbacks had a 53.9 passer rating when targeting him. His 51.1 PFF grade came in at 122nd out of 128 receivers.

Getting him to Minnesota involved Kwesi Adofo-Mensah kicking over a one-year deal coming in at $1.79 million. A full $1 million is guaranteed, suggesting there was competition to acquire the receiver’s services. One wonders if he’ll end up as a trade candidate, similar to Jesse Davis from a couple offseasons ago.

Once training camp and especially the preseason get going, we’ll get a much clearer view of what kind of role Trent Sherfield could have with the Vikings in 2024.

Editor’s Note: Information from Pro Football Reference, PFF, and Over the Cap helped with this piece.

K. Joudry is the Senior Editor for Vikings Territory and PurplePTSD. He has been covering the Vikings full time since the summer of 2021. He can be found on Twitter and as a co-host for Notes from the North, a humble Vikings podcast.