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Tony Jefferson coming out of retirement: Veteran safety trying out with Chargers during minicamp, per report

Tony Jefferson‘s comeback attempt will take its first steps in Los Angeles. The 32-year-old safety is salted to try out with the Chargers during their upcoming minicamp, according to NFL Insider Jordan Schultz. Jefferson, a San Diego native, has a link with the Chargers stemming from new GM Joe Hortiz, who was the director of player personnel for the Baltimore Ravens.ย 

This tryout comes not long after word came out that Jefferson was looking to get back into the league after spending a year in retirement. Jefferson even posted a video to his official X account with the caption that reads, “We are so back. Dialed in.”

Jefferson announced his retirement from the NFL in March of 2023 after spending 10 seasons in the league and playing for four different franchises. He entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Oklahoma in 2013 and signed on with the Cardinals. He spent four years in Arizona before beginning the first of two stints with the Ravens, initially signing a four-year, $34 million deal in March of 2017. ย 

Jefferson started in all 35 of his games played for Baltimore from 2017 to 2019 before suffering a torn ACL that ended his season and his first go-around with the club. He had a brief tenure with the 49ers in 2020 before returning to the Ravens. The last time he played in an NFL game came in January of 2023 (Week 18 of the 2022 season) as a member of the New York Giants.ย 

More recently, Jefferson worked as a scouting intern for the Ravens last year.ย 

For his career, Jefferson has tallied 492 tackles, eight forced fumbles, four interceptions and 24 pass breakups in 113 regular-season games (67 starts).ย 

While the Chargers will seemingly get the first crack at Jefferson, let’s identify a trio of other intriguing landing spots for the safety.

Baltimore Ravens

Seems pretty logical given the familiarity, right? On top of having two different stints as a player with the Ravens, Jefferson was also a part of the organization during his year off in retirement as a member of the scouting department. Baltimore has Kyle Hamilton as their starting strong safety, but currently has two rookies in Sanoussi Kane (seventh-round pick) and Beau Bade (undrafted) behind him, so there could be room for a veteran to deepen the position group.ย 

Jefferson does have a couple of links to the Buccaneers coaching staff, which could look to add some safety depth behind starter Antoine Winfield Jr. and Jordan Whitehead. Head coach Todd Bowles was the defensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals for the first two seasons of Jefferson’s career in 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, current Buccaneers safeties coach Nick Rapone was the Cardinals defensive backs coach throughout Jefferson’s tenure as well.ย 

The connection here stems from former Ravens defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald, who is now the head coach in Seattle. While there wasn’t any crossover between Macdonald and Jefferson when the coach was the DC with Baltimore, they did overlap during Jefferson’s first stint with the organization. Macdonald was the defensive backs coach in 2017 when Jefferson first arrived and continued to coach the defense (as the linebackers coach) for the remaining two years of his first stint, so they should be familiar with one another. The Seahawks have added multiple veteran safeties this offseason, including Rayshawn Jenkins and, more recently, K’Von Wallace, so it’d be interesting to see if Macdonald would be interested in adding another in Jefferson to compete this summer.ย 

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Author: Tyler Sullivan
June 3, 2024 | 2:15 pm

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