OWINGS MILLS, MD – It’s official. Safety Tony Jefferson is going to be a Baltimore Raven.
On Thursday afternoon, right after the official NFL signing period began at 4 p.m., it was announced that Jefferson and the Ravens had reached a four-year, $36 million contract. Jefferson and the Ravens agreed to terms on Monday night, but the deal was not made public or official until Thursday.
ESPN‘s Adam Schefter was the first to break the news.
As Schefter alluded to, Jefferson will be teaming with current Ravens safety Eric Weddle. Together, Weddle and Jefferson could be one of the best safety tandems in the NFL. Last season, Jefferson was ranked the fifth-best safety in the NFL, while Weddle was ranked second. It appears that Weddle had a part in recruiting Jefferson to Baltimore, based on this tweet from a few weeks ago:
Jefferson, formally an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma, played his first four seasons in the NFL for the Arizona Cardinals. He has never made the Pro Bowl, but has been a solid player alongside superstar safety Tyrann Mathieu.
In his time with the Cardinals, Jefferson totaled 220 tackles, two sacks, two interceptions, and six forced fumbles. He is a hard hitter who will fit in perfectly with the Ravens’ defensive mentality. Right now, three of the starters in Baltimore’s secondary are Jefferson, Weddle, and Jimmy Smith. If all three are healthy, that is a very nice unit.
With the signing of Jefferson, the Ravens will now have to make a decision on what to do with safety Lardarius Webb. Webb has been with the Ravens since 2009, and had a decent season last year in his first stint at safety. However, he has a $7.5 million cap hit this season. Releasing Webb would create $5.5 million in cap space.
Baltimore’s interest in Jefferson had been there for weeks. The Ravens are not expected to be a major aggressor in free agency, but acquiring Jefferson is a solid move. With the picture at safety now becoming clearer, the Ravens now need to upgrade at corner-back. It was reported earlier today that the Ravens have interest in Cowboys free agent corner Morris Claiborne. Whether it is in free agency or the draft, cornerback is a position that the Ravens will be looking to improve.