Safety Tony Jefferson will reportedly sign a contract with the Baltimore Ravens. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed yet. Jefferson spent the first four seasons of his career with the Arizona Cardinals, and enjoyed a highly successful campaign in 2016.
Ravens expected to sign Cardinals S Tony Jefferson barring any last-minute negotiating snags, per @diannaESPN and me.
Report: Tony Jefferson to Sign With Baltimore Ravens
Tony Jefferson has been on a roller coaster ride. The first three years of his career, he fought for playing time, starting 17 of 48 games he played in. While he has always been a valuable role player, Jefferson decided he was finished with merely being a solid bench defensive back, and put in the necessary work to get better. After missing out on any real attention during the free agent period last year, Jefferson resolved to cut his weight, and get in the best shape of his life. Everything he did paid off.
In the first half of last season, Jefferson was rated by Pro Football Focus (PFF) as high as the number two safety. While he didn’t hold that spot, he did end up with the fifth highest overall grade, right behind Eric Weddle, Landon Collins, Kam Chancellor, and Devin McCourty. Jefferson should be proud to be mentioned in the same sentence with those players, and he has the potential to get better and continue to stay on that level.
Jefferson is considered a strong safety because of his excellence defending the run, rushing the passer, and defending the middle of the field on those intermediate throws. While his coverage is by no means a liability, his true value sprouts from is his nose for the ball and making strong tackles to stop opposing running backs. Jefferson earned the second best run defense PFF grade of all safeties, led his team in tackles, and tied for the sack lead among Cardinal defensive backs.
Jefferson’s energy and newfound passion for the game is imperative for him to continue to play well. Jefferson may not be the most athletically gifted safety out there, and he will have to continue to work hard every season and off-season to prevent any regression. Jefferson has been excited at the chance to get a fresh start and see himself in a new jersey, so the strong play on the field should continue. Largely due to his excellence stuffing the run, Tony Jefferson grew to become one of the best overall safeties in the NFL in 2016, and he could become a household name in the next year.