Tony Jefferson Should Interest Eagles; Josh Norman Not At All

Ed Kracz

The NFL's free agent tree sprouted two more branches on Friday when the Washington Redskins released cornerback Josh Norman and the Baltimore Ravens cut safety Tony Jefferson.

The Eagles need to restock both of those positions this offseason.

My last impression of Norman was getting beat by Greg Ward for a touchdown in the final minute of the next-to-last regular season game between the Eagles and Redskins.

That’s not to say Norman still can’t play even after turning 32 last December, but age alone figures to scare off the Eagles, who are trying to not have one of the oldest rosters in the league like they did a season ago.

Furthermore, Norman was never the fastest player in the league, coming out of Coastal Carolina in 2012 as a fifth-round draft pick after posting a 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. He is a lot like an older version of current Eagles corner Rasul Douglas, who can get physical like Norman, but doesn’t have the speed to cover deep.

Norman’s locker room presence reportedly leaves something to be desired, too, though he once praised Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz after a game against Washington in which Wentz dazzled eluding the pass rush.

Afterward, Norman told Wentz, “You’re like Houdini back there.”

Nevertheless, Norman isn’t fit, so bringing him on board wouldn’t make sense.

Jefferson on the other hand is a fit and someone the Eagles should consider.

The Eagles could be in a bind at safety depending on whether they decide to restructure Malcolm Jenkins’ contract and/or lock up Rodney McLeod before he becomes a free agent when the league year ends on March 18.

Jefferson, who just turned 28 at the end of January, was released in part because of an ACL he suffered in Week Five of the regular season and the emergence of his replacement, Chuck Clark, who was given a three-year contract earlier in the week for $16 million. Another part of Jefferson’s release was salary cap related. He will save the Ravens $7 million on the salary cap.

“This is the worst part of this business,” Baltimore general manager Eric DeCosta said in a team press release. “Tony is the consummate teammate and someone who is respected by everyone for his leadership, determination, humility and toughness. He’s a friend to all and a true Raven. We know he’s going to beat this injury, and we will be cheering for him all along the way. We wish the very best to Tony and his family.”

Jefferson’s ACL tore on Oct. 6, which means he could be ready to return in midway through summer training camp, depending on how well his rehab goes.

He could be worth taking the risk at a reasonable price.

In three years with Baltimore, the former undrafted free agent of the Arizona Cardinals from the University of Oklahoma, Jefferson had 174 tackles, two interceptions, 3.5 sacks, 11 passes defended and one fumble recovery in 35 starts.

“Tony is a tremendous leader, a true competitor, a team player and a family man,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said in team press release. “His time here has been a blessing. We have the utmost respect for his professionalism and positive contributions to our team and the Baltimore community. We wish he and his family the best going forward.”

Going forward, the Eagles would be wise to try to sign him.