Ravens Part Ways With Safety Tony Jefferson

Todd Karpovich

The Baltimore Ravens terminated the contract of veteran safety Tony Jefferson, executive vice president and general manager Eric DeCosta announced Friday.

Jefferson suffered a season-ending knee injury Week 5 against the Pittsburgh Steelers, which opened the door for Chuck Clark to take over the starting job. Clark excelled alongside Earl Thomas and was rewarded with a three-year, $16 million contract extension earlier in the week.

The release of Jefferson will save Baltimore $7 million on the salary cap.  

“This is the worst part of this business,” DeCosta said. “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.”

In three seasons as a Raven beginning in 2017, Jefferson had 174 tackles (120 solo), two interceptions, 3.5 sacks, 11 passes defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery in 35 games (all starts). 

“Tony is a tremendous leader, a true competitor, a team player and a family man,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “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.”

A seven-year NFL veteran, Jefferson spent his first four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals (2013-2016), where he originally signed as a rookie free agent. He joined the Ravens as an unrestricted free agent in 2017.

Prior to his Week 5 injury in 2019, Jefferson led all defensive backs in tackles for loss (30) dating back to 2015. While with Arizona in 2016, he led all NFL defensive backs with 13 tackles for loss, which was also the most by a defensive back in a single season since the stat began being tracked in 2008.

In 2018, Jefferson was the only Raven to finish with at least one sack, interception, pass defensed, forced fumble and fumble recovery for the league’s top-ranked defense (292.9 yards per game). He was also just one of six NFL safeties to post at least five tackles for loss and a sack, interception, forced fumble and fumble recovery.

Jefferson served as a strong presence in the Baltimore community, where he actively hosted charitable events for children in need and supported the endeavors of many of his teammates. In 2017, he also made a $20,000 donation to a hurricane relief fund to help benefit victims in Puerto Rico and elsewhere.

In his career, Jefferson has posted 434 tackles (331 solo), 33 tackles for loss, 8.5 sacks, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), 22 passes defensed, eight forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries.