When wide receiver Trent Sherfield walked around the Buffalo Bills facility, he saw a team that reflected him and his journey.
“I just think that this is a place for me, for me to thrive in,” Sherfield said. “What's in my DNA is all around this building.”
The Buffalo Bills signed Sherfield to a one-year deal Monday.
Sherfield entered the league with the Arizona Cardinals in 2018 as an undrafted rookie free agent. He spent three years there before one season with the San Francisco 49ers, and, most recently, a season with the Miami Dolphins. He’s now getting a fresh start with his fourth team, and Sherfield believes his path can be an inspiration for others.
“I think that it's just a part of the story, it’s a part of my testimony,” Sherfield said Monday over Zoom. “There's somebody that's probably going to have to go through this just like me, and that person may read my story or reach out or whatever it may be, and I'm probably going to have to encourage them to keep on going. So, I think that finding a home is not as easy in the league as being a draft pick or undrafted free agent, those type of different things.
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“And so, some things are different for others, and this is just my story. I choose to embrace it and I think that hopefully and prayerfully I found a home here. And going through the building today, I feel like that is definitely the case.”
Sherfield is a speedy receiver who adds depth to the wide receiver room and has made an impact on special teams. He's coming off a year with the Dolphins in which he had 30 catches on 48 targets for 417 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs. He was credited by Pro Football Focus with 142 yards after the catch and just one drop.
According to PFF, he played 424 offensive snaps last season, with 215 from the slot and 207 out wide. He’s ready for whatever role he’s given in Buffalo.
“At the end of the day, my plan is being a weapon on offense, being a guy that can be depended on to make plays and situations for the offense and just being able to be readily and excessively available to be needed potentially on special teams,” Sherfield said. “But my goal has always been to prove myself as a receiver in this league, and no job is too small for me.”
Take blocking as an example. Sherfield says not only is he willing to block, but he takes pride in it, even when other receivers don’t love it.
“Obviously, when you say that to a receiver, they'll probably shy away from it,” Sherfield said on blocking. “But it’s like, for me, it's a job, right? And if that's my job, I'm going to be the best at it.”
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 206 pounds, Sherfield, 27, is an Illinois native who played at Vanderbilt. He's played 78 games in the NFL, with nine career starts.
He had his most opportunities in Miami, and he thought he’d keep playing there.
“I kind of went into (free agency) kind of thinking that I was going to be back in Miami, and for whatever reason, that just didn't happen,” he said.
Sherfield was grateful for his time in Miami, and particular for coach Mike McDaniel, who was his offensive coordinator in San Francisco, and who he credited with “giving me my first real shot.” With increased playing time in Miami in his fifth year in the league, Sherfield felt he took a step and can continue to build on that, particularly on offense. First though, he had to find his next landing spot.
“This free agency was actually kind of nerve wracking for a couple of the days,” he said. “It took longer than what I would have liked, but I'm happy, and I'm at peace with being here and with the decision that I made.”
Sherfield’s time in Buffalo so far, while a tiny sample size, has been overwhelmingly positive. In his meeting with coach Sean McDermott, the two spent plenty of the time talking about life outside football, which Sherfield said was impactful. He met with other coaches and he was impressed by the friendliness of players who passed through the building.
He met with offensive coordinator Ken Dorsey on Monday as well.
“It was a really, really good conversation,” Sherfield said. “We kind of just went over some different plays and stuff like that, and just kind of looked at the offense and kind of just talked some preliminary stuff, nothing too crazy.”
Outside of current players and staff, Sherfield also heard from Bills alumni that made him confident in his next chapter.
“Talking to former players that played here, all the great things that they were telling me about – telling me that, ‘Hey, this is the place where you belong,’” he said. “And so, I just couldn't ignore that.”
So much of Sherfield’s journey has been carving out a spot and persevering. But he’s still been able to appreciate all of the process – going undrafted, playing special teams, switching teams – as he looks forward to the next steps.
“You have to,” Sherfield said. “I think that a lot of times, there (were) times where I would kind of get caught up in like, ‘Well, I'm not here yet. I'm not doing this. I'm not doing that.’ It's like, well, hold on: Just take a step back and just look at how far you've come. …
“Being able to have that happen, I was able to kind of take a step back and be like, ‘Wow, I have hung on this long and made it through this and made it through that.’ And so now, it's like, ‘Okay, well, what's next? What else can I do?’”