Beloved Ex-Ravens Safety Makes Timely Return to Baltimore

Ravens Tony Jefferson

Getty Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson chases down then-Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell in 2017.

After a devastating injury to cornerback Marlon Humphrey on December 5, the Baltimore Ravens have made a noteworthy addition to their secondary with the signing of ex-Ravens safety Tony Jefferson.

Ravens head coach John Harbaugh announced the signing during a press conference on December 13, just a few hours after Jefferson participated in an official workout in Baltimore.

“He looked good,” said Harbaugh of the workout, which was first reported by Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic, though Jefferson himself hinted at a reunion with the Ravens multiple times in the week before his signing.

First, Jefferson gave a cryptic response to a fan’s call for the Ravens to re-sign him after All-Pro cornerback Marlon Humphrey suffered a season-ending injury on December 5 vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers.

He was also tweeting about the Ravens’ Week 15 matchup with the Cleveland Browns on December 12 when a fan asked him to “please come back” to Baltimore.

“Bout to land,” Jefferson tweeted back, a comment which likely would have attracted more attention if not for a game-ending ankle injury to Lamar Jackson and a wild second-half in Cleveland.

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Jefferson spent the first four years of his career with the Arizona Cardinals before signing a four-year, $34 million contract with the Ravens, per team writer Ryan Mink. He finished among the team’s top three tacklers in both 2017 and 2018, but a knee injury the following season cut his first stint in Baltimore short.

Jefferson didn’t play in 2020, but he made his NFL comeback with the San Francisco 49ers this season, appearing in two games with almost all of his snaps on special teams. That’s where Jefferson would likely contribute to the Ravens as well, with his experience and locker room leadership adding even more upside to his return.

Jefferson’s Role in Baltimore

Still, the Ravens’ secondary shorthanded enough that another injury could quickly press Jefferson into action on defense. Safeties DeShon Elliott and Ar’Darius Washington have already been knocked out for the season, leaving the Ravens with just four safeties: starters Chuck Clark and rookie Brandon Stephens, with Geno Stone and Anthony Levine Sr. also on the 53-man roster.

While Stone would be the next man up if Clark or Stephens were to get injured – he briefly replaced Stephens in Pittsburgh on December 5 – Levine Sr. hasn’t played a single snap on defense all season, even with a myriad of injuries in Baltimore. That indicates that the Ravens coaching staff just doesn’t trust the 34-year-old veteran on defense anymore.

Harbaugh said that Jefferson “looked good” during his workout, adding that he was “in shape” and “moving well.”

The longtime Ravens coach was clearly excited about the reunion with Jefferson, smiling as he told media, “It’s fun. It will be great.”

Jefferson, Fans React to Reunion

Jefferson responded to the Ravens’ Twitter announcement of his return to Baltimore, expressing his excitement about the reunion.

Several Ravens writers and fans welcomed Jefferson back to Baltimore, reminiscing about his previous tenure with the Ravens.

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Jefferson was beloved during his first stint in Baltimore, per the Ravens’ Garrett Downing, who tweeted that Jefferson is “a highly respected person in this organization.”

With the Ravens’ defensive backs dropping like flies in the last month, expect to see Jefferson suit up on game day before the end of the regular season.