Ravens Cut Former Cardinals Starter, Avoid Massive Cap Hit

Ravens Cut Tony Jefferson

Getty Strong Safety Tony Jefferson #23 of the Baltimore Ravens reacts after a play in the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium on December 31, 2017 in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Baltimore Ravens are saying goodbye to one of their starting safety for 2020, saving a huge chunk of change in the process.

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Ravens are releasing 28-year-old safety Tony Jefferson after three seasons in a move that was somewhat anticipated after the team signed a three-year extension with safety Chuck Clark earlier this week. The Ravens confirmed Jefferson’s release Friday afternoon from their team website.

Jefferson tallied 21 tackles in the first five games of the 2019 season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Week 5 against Pittsburgh. Clark stepped up and delivered a career season in his absence, finishing with 68 tackles and nine passes defensed along with making the second interception of his three-year NFL career.

“This is the worst part of the business,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said in a statement. “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 is still recovering from his torn ACL, but injuries haven’t been a problem during his seven years in the league. He missed just two games in the season prior and only once during his four seasons with the Arizona Cardinals. Jefferson was also on course to hit 500 career tackles before his season’s untimely end, which could see him attract some new attention from teams looking to add a veteran safety to their arsenal this offseason.

Jefferson was signed to a four-year, $34 million contract with the Ravens and due to earn roughly $11.66 million during the 2020 season, according to Spotrac, but the decision to release him will save Baltimore about $7.5 million in cap space.

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

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Clark’s Ascension Assured Jefferson’s Exit

It might have only had three days to breathe, but the three-year, $16 million contract extension Clark signed with Baltimore on Tuesday all but confirmed the Ravens’ plans for the future. And frankly, he has earned every penny.

A former sixth-round draft pick, Clark excelled with each given opportunity during his first three seasons in the league whether it was thriving as a special teams player or climbing the depth chart into an instrumental rotational player. While nobody wanted to see Jefferson hurt, it created the necessary opportunity for him to make the leap into a starting role.

Now, the Ravens have a promising young talent stitched into the fabric of their secondary alongside former Seattle star Earl Thomas III at free safety. They have a similar pairing at cornerback with veteran Marcus Peters playing opposite 2017 first-rounder Marlon Humphrey.

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