After missing more than two years because of an ACL tear, Tony Jefferson managed to land roles with multiple teams over the past two seasons. But the veteran defender will choose to step away rather than attempting to play a 10th season.
Jefferson intends to retire, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. He has another gig lined up, with Schefter adding the former Ravens safety is expected to join the team’s scouting staff. Jefferson played four seasons with the Ravens, working as a Baltimore starter in three of those. The 31-year-old cover man wraps his career having played for four teams, beginning with the Cardinals and including late-career stops with the 49ers and Giants.
Jefferson will follow punter Sam Koch in retiring and joining Baltimore’s staff. Current Ravens inside linebackers coach Zach Orr did the same in the late 2010s, moving from Ravens defender to coach. Jefferson did not finish his career with the Ravens, closing out his NFL run with the Giants last season, but he will stay close to the game as a member of the franchise. The Ravens announced Jefferson will be working as a scouting intern this summer.
The Ravens have signed several veteran safeties to big-ticket deals over the past several years. Jefferson joined Eric Weddle, Earl Thomas and Marcus Williams in this group. Baltimore teamed Jefferson and Weddle from 2017-18, when the two operated as the team’s starting safeties together. Jefferson signed a four-year, $34MM deal with the Ravens in 2017 and started 35 games over the next three seasons. During Jefferson’s final year as a full-time Ravens starter (2018), the team finished first in total defense.
A Week 5 ACL tear sidelined Jefferson for most of Baltimore’s 14-2 2019 season, and the Ravens released him with a failed physical designation in February 2020. Jefferson spent the 2020 season out of football. He eventually caught on with the 49ers in June 2021 but only played in two games with the team. He circled back to the Ravens in November of that year and ended up rejoining DC Don Martindale in New York just before last season. The Ravens released Jefferson on roster-cutdown day last August, his past with Martindale led to a Giants practice squad agreement. He moved up to the active roster and played nine games for the playoff qualifier.
Jefferson finished his career with 67 starts, lasting nine years despite entering the league as a Cardinals UDFA in 2013. Part of Bruce Arians‘ first batch of UDFAs, Jefferson played a regular role on the 2014 and ’15 playoff-bound Cardinals teams. He teamed with the likes of Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Mathieu in Arizona’s 2015 secondary, which helped form a top-10 defense during a season that ended in the NFC championship game. Jefferson intercepted only four passes as a pro but registered 9.5 sacks and 34 tackles for loss. The future scout earned just more than $32MM as an NFL player.