A year after signing safety Eric Weddle, the Ravens are set to make another splash at the position in free agency. The club will sign Tony Jefferson, report Adam Schefter and Dianna Russini of ESPN (Twitter link).
Jefferson is the second big-name defender who has agreed to depart the Cardinals this evening, joining soon-to-be Jaguar Calais Campbell. The safety’s decision to sign with the Ravens came in spite of a better offer from the AFC North rival Browns, tweets Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. The Jets also had interest in Jefferson, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com (Twitter link), but Weddle helped convince him to head to Baltimore, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (via Twitter).
Jefferson hit clubs’ radars in the wake of a season in which he logged career bests in tackles (92), starts (14) and sacks (two). Although Jefferson failed to intercept a pass last year, and has recorded only two picks in four NFL seasons, he’s known for his line-of-scrimmage prowess and managed to rank an outstanding fifth in performance among Pro Football Focus’ 89 qualified safeties. He also rated as our 11th-best free agent and top safety.
The addition of an in-his-prime Jefferson, 25, is a boon for the Ravens, but not for one of their other safeties, Lardarius Webb. The team is now primed to release him and pick up $5.5MM in cap room, according to Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com. Interestingly, PFF liked the 15th-ranked Webb’s play nearly as much as it did Jefferson’s last season. However, at 31, Webb is the far older of the two. To this point, he has spent his entire eight-year career in Baltimore, where he has amassed 111 appearances, 82 starts and 13 interceptions. Webb started all 16 of the Ravens’ games last year.
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