Tony Jefferson

49ers To Sign Tony Jefferson

Tony Jefferson is back. On Monday, the 49ers agreed to sign the veteran safety, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets

Jefferson hasn’t played since 2019, when he tore his ACL. Then, the pandemic slowed his rehab, keeping him off the field throughout 2020. Under normal circumstances, Jefferson would have been mostly healed by April.

I was really getting into a groove with my workouts and my rehab,” Jefferson said in April. “Now, I’m waiting two or three weeks just to get a medicine ball.”

After spending the early part of his career with the Cardinals, Jefferson inked a four-year, $34MM contract with the Ravens in 2017. He started in all 35 of his games for Baltimore from 2017-2019, but the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus weren’t fond of his five-game 2019 season. The Ravens released Jefferson in February of 2020, but he wasn’t healthy enough to land a deal elsewhere.

Jefferson will surely play for less than his last contract, but he has an opportunity to restore his stock in San Francisco. If all goes well, the 29-year-old could be the first safety off of the bench behind free safety Jimmie Ward and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt.

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49ers To Meet With Tony Jefferson

The 49ers are set to meet with Tony Jefferson this week (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler). The veteran safety has not played in nearly two years, but he could mount a comeback with the 49ers if he passes his physical.

An ACL tear in October of 2019 sidetracked Jefferson’s NFL career. Then, the pandemic interfered with Jefferson’s rehab. Under normal circumstances, Jefferson would have been mostly healed by April. Instead, he was unable to see his physical therapist or gain access to the equipment he needed.

I was really getting into a groove with my workouts and my rehab,” Jefferson said. “Now, I’m waiting two or three weeks just to get a medicine ball.”

After spending the early part of his career with the Cardinals, Jefferson inked a four-year, $34MM contract with the Ravens in 2017. He started in all 35 of his games for Baltimore from 2017-2019, but the advanced metrics at Pro Football Focus weren’t fond of his work in 2019 (the five-game season). The Ravens went on to release Jefferson in February of 2020, but he wasn’t healthy enough to land a deal elsewhere.

Jefferson will have to settle for less than his last contract, but he’ll be better positioned next year if he can turn in a healthy season. After all, he’s still just 29 years old with five-plus seasons worth of starting experience to his credit.

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49ers To Host S Tony Jefferson On Visit

Tony Jefferson has not played in a game since October 2019, when an ACL tear sidetracked his career. But after missing the entire 2020 season, the veteran safety is planning to play in 2021.

The 49ers will meet with Jefferson about a comeback, with veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweeting the sides will visit at some point within the next three weeks. The former Cardinals and Ravens defender is arranging visits, per Anderson.

Regarded as one of the league’s better safeties prior to his knee injury, Jefferson was not permitted to make visits during the 2020 offseason. The Ravens released him in February 2020. While he did end up meeting with the Colts during the season, nothing materialized from that summit. Jefferson is unlikely to come close to the value of the four-year, $34MM deal he inked with the Ravens in 2017, but he is still just 29 and has five-plus seasons’ worth of starting experience.

A fit with San Francisco would point Jefferson to a depth role. The 49ers have Jimmie Ward signed long-term, and the team just reached an agreement to re-sign Jaquiski Tartt.

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Colts To Host S Tony Jefferson On Visit

Tony Jefferson will have a chance to show he is ready to return to NFL action. The veteran safety is headed to Indianapolis for a Colts visit, veteran NFL reporter Josina Anderson tweets.

The former Cardinals and Ravens defender suffered a torn ACL nearly a year ago. Although he was not ready to pass a physical during training camp, it appears he is close to being ready for workouts. Should Jefferson be healthy, he should not have trouble landing a gig soon. No Colts workout is scheduled, however, per Anderson, who adds (via Twitter) Jefferson’s visit is set for Friday.

Jefferson, 28, was a full-time starter during his Cardinals contract year and in each of his three Ravens seasons. The Ravens released him earlier this year but continue to hold him in high regard.

The Colts have run into injury trouble at Jefferson’s position. Fourth-year starter Malik Hooker‘s season-ending injury thinned out Indianapolis’ safety corps, though the team drafted Julian Blackmon in Round 3 this year. The Colts have 2019 fourth-round pick Khari Willis as a starter and signed fifth-year safety Tavon Wilson in August. Blackmon and Willis started the Colts’ Week 3 game on Sunday.

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Ravens-Tony Jefferson Reunion In Play?

The Ravens released Tony Jefferson in February, but their safety depth chart has obviously changed since then. After the team’s Earl Thomas release, Baltimore may be shorthanded at one of its back-line positions this year.

Jefferson expects to be pass a physical in around two weeks, per Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, who adds the Ravens hold their three-year starter in high regard. A reunion between these parties is not out of the question, La Canfora notes.

Jefferson has no intentions of playing for another AFC North team and has interest in a Ravens staff position after his career concludes, La Canfora adds. Regarding his on-field status, Jefferson last played in October 2019. His season ended after he suffered an ACL tear. Jefferson’s health timeline could impede a potential Ravens reunion, however, at least by the season’s outset.

As of now, DeShon Elliott has secured the first crack at replacing Thomas alongside Chuck Clark. Elliott, a 2018 sixth-round pick, has played in just six NFL games. Jefferson is still just 28 and started 35 games for the Ravens from 2017-19. The ex-Cardinals starter signed a four-year, $34MM Ravens deal in 2017, choosing Baltimore over interest from Cleveland. Pro Football Focus did not grade Jefferson’s 2019 season (just five games) well but viewed the safety’s 2017 and ’18 work in a more positive light.

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Tony Jefferson On Free Agency, Recovery

Tony Jefferson is still a free agent, and the safety is one of the biggest names left on the market. During a recent interview with Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, Jefferson spoke about his situation, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted his ability to find a new home.

Jefferson tore an ACL back in October, and the Ravens released him in February. COVID-19 has made it harder for teams to get a clear picture of his health, and for Jefferson to continue his rehab.“I was really getting into a groove with my workouts and my rehab,” Jefferson said. “I was really turning the corner and then, this comes.” Once he was no longer able to see his physical therapist, he struggled to get all of the stuff he needed for his workouts. “Most of it is sold out because I guess everybody is trying to use the (in-home) equipment now,” Jefferson explained. “I’m waiting two or three weeks just to get a medicine ball.”

Still he isn’t getting too down about it, and he indicated that he has been in touch with multiple interested teams. “I know that my knee is feeling fine, and I know that I have teams that are ready. I’ve just kind of let my agent do his thing. We’re just waiting for this virus to settle down, and I think something will happen quickly.” A Bucs beat writer floated Jefferson as a potential fit in Tampa due to his time spent with Bruca Arians in Arizona, but other than that we haven’t heard anything about him since his release.

The Oklahoma product is just one example of players with serious medical concerns who have had their markets impacted. There’s been a lot of talk that Jadeveon Clowney‘s offers have been underwhelming in part because team doctors haven’t been able to examine him and make their own determinations on his length medical history.

Zrebiec also notes that Jefferson is on track to be able to return to the field around the beginning of training camp, assuming training camp happens in late July and isn’t pushed back or canceled. Jefferson entered the league as an undrafted free agent in 2013, and quickly became a starter with the Cardinals. He then signed a four-year, $34MM contract with the Ravens in 2017. He started all 35 games that he appeared in across his three years in Baltimore. While he’ll certainly end up signing somewhere, it doesn’t sound like it’s likely to come before the draft.

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Bucs Notes: Winston, Jefferson, Crowell

Throughout his first season as the Buccaneers’ head coach, Bruce Arians was generally non-committal towards former starting QB Jameis Winston. In one memorable sound-bite towards the end of the 2019 campaign, Arians was asked if Tampa could win with a different signal-caller, and he replied, “With another quarterback? Oh yeah. If we can win with this one (Winston), we can definitely win with another one, too.”

Despite that, Arians recently told Rich Eisen of the NFL Network that he is trying to sell other clubs on Winston (via Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk). “I’ve called a couple teams,” Arians told Eisen. “You’re going to get one of the hardest workers you’ve ever had and a great young man.” 

However, none of the teams that Arians spoke with indicated they were interested in Winston as a starter. And indeed, teams that entered the offseason with QB needs have either filled those needs, plan to stay the course with their current group of passers, or are expected to use a high draft pick on a quarterback. So at this point, Winston will just need to get on a roster and hope that an opportunity opens up.

Now for more on the suddenly interesting Bucs:

  • We recently heard that the Buccaneers’ top QB choices were Tom Brady, then Teddy Bridgewater, then Winston, and Arians confirmed as much in the above-referenced interview with Eisen. “[A Winston re-up] didn’t work out for us only because [Brady] was available and we had [Bridgewater] if that wouldn’t have worked out,” Arians said. “We were going full steam ahead back with Jameis.”
  • After entering the offseason with a ton of cap space, the Bucs have only about $14MM left to spend, as Greg Auman of The Athletic observes, and some of that will be needed to sign the club’s draft picks. Auman takes a look at a few veteran FAs still available that could fit the Bucs’ remaining needs. One such player is safety Tony Jefferson, who played for Arians for four years in Arizona and who would represent a quality veteran presence in Tampa’s young defensive backfield.
  • The Bucs could wait until the draft to fill their need for a pass-catching RB, but if they are unable to do so or unwilling to wait, they could look at Isaiah Crowell, per Auman. Crowell does not have a past connection to Arians but did play for DC Todd Bowles when Bowles was the Jets’ head coach in 2018.
  • DB Ryan Smith re-signed with the Buccaneers several days ago, and Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports says Smith’s one-year deal has a max value of $2.25MM (Twitter link).
  • Even though Brady may want him, the Buccaneers have no intention of signing Antonio Brown.

Ravens To Release Tony Jefferson

The Ravens will release safety Tony Jefferson, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Jefferson was set to count for just under $12MM against the cap in 2020. Instead, the Ravens will erase a big chunk of it by cutting him. 

After making a name for himself with the Cardinals, Jefferson signed a four-year, $34MM deal with the Ravens in 2017. Since then, he’s started in all of his games for the Ravens over the last three seasons. Last year, he saw his season cut short by an October ACL tear.

The move does not come as a surprise – Jefferson only played in five games last year and he was gone for most of the Ravens’ incredible 12-game win streak. Earlier this month, they extended fellow safety Chuck Clark, adding $15MM+ and three years to his last remaining contract year. Clark and Earl Thomas will start at safety for Baltimore in 2020 while Jefferson moves on to a new team.

After dropping Jefferson, the Ravens will have an additional $7MM as they head into the offseason. They’ll still be on the hook for $4.7MM in dead money, but that’s preferable to paying ~$12MM for a backup.

The Ravens appear poised to contend once again in 2020, but they’ll have some key issues to address this offseason. The to-do list includes the status of Pro Bowl outside linebacker Matt Judon, who could be tagged-and-traded. They’ll also look to extend left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who helped Lamar Jackson capture the MVP trophy.

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AFC North Notes: Garrett, Bengals, Ravens

Myles Garrett crossed a key item off his rather important offseason to-do list, meeting with Roger Goodell about a potential reinstatement. That was only a step, however. The now-polarizing Browns defensive end must now wait on the NFL to determine if he’s met reinstatement requirements, per Mark Maske of the Washington Post (on Twitter). No timetable exists on this front, but Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer expects a reinstatement soon. The expectation remains for Garrett to return to action in 2020, his fourth season, but it is not certain if he will be able to participate in all of Cleveland’s offseason program.

Here is the latest from the AFC North:

  • The Browns having hired Kevin Stefanski as head coach and added Alex Van Pelt as OC may prompt them to leave one key staff position vacant. Stefanski and Van Pelt’s experience coaching quarterbacks might move the Browns to forgo the hiring of a quarterbacks coach, Cabot writes. Stefanski and Van Pelt have 17 combined seasons coaching NFL quarterbacks. The Browns’ hire of 2019 Broncos QBs coach T.C. McCartney as an offensive assistant may further convince Stefanski the team is covered on quarterback coaches.
  • The NFL’s other Ohio team did some hiring recently, adding two coaches to Zac Taylor‘s staff. Former NFL wide receiver Troy Walters is now the Bengals‘ wideouts coach, the team announced. The team also brought in another coach with 21st-century NFL experience, hiring Colt Anderson as its assistant special teams coach. Walters played eight seasons, from 2000-07. His most notable work came for some high-powered Colts teams in the mid-aughts. Walters, who has yet to coach in the NFL, spent 2018-19 as Nebraska’s offensive coordinator. Taylor is ex-Cornhuskers quarterback and coach. Anderson spent time with the Eagles, Colts and Bills from 2010-17. This will be his first NFL coaching gig.
  • Expected to place the franchise tag on A.J. Green, the Bengals will likely accelerate negotiations with the star wideout between the tag window, per Paul Dehner Jr. of The Athletic (subscription required). Teams can apply tags to players from Feb. 25-March 10. Green has voiced opposition to being tagged in advance of his age-32 season and pointed to a likely holdout, though he has stopped short of saying he would not play on the $18.5MM tag. Green’s recent injury history and the Bengals’ likely reluctance to offer a highly guaranteed contract leads Dehner to predict the seven-time Pro Bowler will play 2020 on the tag.
  • Chuck Clark‘s extension agreement makes Tony Jefferson‘s Ravens departure a matter of when, not if, Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic writes (subscription required). Lost for the season in early October, Jefferson missed the bulk of Baltimore’s 12-game win streak. The Ravens releasing the three-year safety starter would save them $7MM in 2020, the final year of Jefferson’s contract. Clark will then expected to reprise his role alongside Earl Thomas next season.

AFC Notes: Ravens, Brady, Mosley

We heard at the end of December that the Ravens are prepared to slap pass rusher Matt Judon with the franchise tag if they cannot work out a long-term deal with him, but recent comments from head coach John Harbaugh suggested Judon could be suiting up elsewhere in 2020. Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic says Baltimore may be disinclined to use the tag, as it would take up a big chunk of their cap and could alienate the emotional and outspoken Judon.

On the other hand, Judon is the only proven pass rusher on the team, and there’s no guarantee the Ravens can win a bidding war for one of this year’s top FAs or land a player at the bottom of the first round of the draft who can make an immediate impact, so GM Eric DeCosta will have to carefully weigh a number of factors.

Let’s round up a few other AFC items, starting with several more nuggets out of Baltimore:

  • The Ravens and veteran CB Jimmy Smith have mutual interest in a reunion, per Zrebiec. However, if Baltimore brings back Smith, it’s unlikely that CB/S Brandon Carr also returns. Meanwhile, the Ravens will almost certainly cut safety Tony Jefferson.
  • Regardless of what they do with Judon, the Ravens will have to add three or four starting-caliber players to their front seven, so Zrebiec expects the team to focus on those areas heavily in the draft, and he fully expects DeCosta to draft a WR or two.
  • Add Jay Glazer of The Athletic to the list of pundits who believe a Tom BradyRaiders partnership makes sense. Like others, Glazer thinks the Chargers are an obvious non-Patriots landing spot, but given the international presence that the Las Vegas outfit is expected to have, both Brady and the team would stand to benefit from a Sin City marriage.
  • In a recent interview with Eddie Paskal of the team’s official website, Raiders GM Mike Mayock said he believes the move to Las Vegas will help the club attract top free agents, even those not named Brady. The fact that Nevada does not have a state income tax will obviously be appealing, as will the sleek new stadium and the general excitement surrounding the franchise. Mayock also noted that he will look to add wide receiver help this offseason.
  • Jets LB C.J. Mosley had to undergo groin/abdominal surgery about six weeks ago, but he expects to be ready for the team’s offseason program this spring, per Rich Cimini of ESPN.com. One of last year’s biggest free agent fish, Mosley played in just two games for Gang Green, and he has started a vegan diet in the hopes of giving himself an edge.