After playing nearly a decade in the NFL, former Baltimore Ravens safety Tony Jefferson announced his retirement on Thursday, May 25, 2023, as first reported by ESPN insider Adam Schefter.
He was a fan favorite during his time in Charm City and while he is hanging up his cleats, the former undrafted free gem turned standout starter won’t be stepping away from the game entirely as he will be joining the Ravens as a scout this summer.
The team congratulated Jefferson on stepping away from his playing career and officially announced that they will be helping him launch into his next career through the Nunn-Wooten Scouting Fellowship.
The program was created by the NFL in 2015 as means of exposing “interested and qualified candidates to a career in professional scouting”. It is named after former long-time NFL scouts and executives Bill Nunn and John Wooten who both spent over fout decades as trailblazers in the industry as some of the first and most successful African-Americans to hold and thrive at their positions.
“The program will give participants a unique glimpse into Player Personnel by introducing them to various areas related to college and pro scouting within a club,” per the program’s official website.
During his time as a player, Jefferson expressed that his desire was to one day become a general manager of an NFL team according to The Athletic’s Jeff Zrebiec. He will be following in the footsteps of another former Ravens’ defensive back and fan favorite, Anthony Levine, who retired last offseason after a lengthy career in the league and went straight into a front-office role as a player personnel assistant.
He finishes his career with 492 total tackles, 34 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 20 quarterback hits, four interceptions, 24 pass deflections, eight forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and one touchdown in 113 games including 67 starts according to Pro Football Reference.
Most Memorable Portion of His Career Came as a Raven
While he began his career and first made a name for himself as a former undrafted free agent of the Arizona Cardinals, the most notable portion of his time in the league came in Baltimore where he quickly endeared himself with the organization, city, and fanbase abroad.
He had two different stints with the Ravens with the first coming when he signed a sizable free-agent contract in 2017 worth $34 million over four years per spotrac.com. He formed a dynamic duo with retired six-time Pro Bowler Eric Weddle for two years from 2017-2018.
His second stint came in the 2021 season after he sat out the entire 2020 while he recovered from a torn ACL he suffered in 2019 with the Ravens. In his second game back in black and purple, he recorded 10 total tackles including one for loss, a sack, and a quarterback hit per PFR.
He shined in a dime linebacker role in four games that season and likely would’ve made the 2022 roster had the team not been so deep at safety last year. They tried to bring him back following his release but he opted to join former Ravens defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale with the New York Giants instead where appeared in nine games and even made a start.
“I have to be honest, that is family over there (Baltimore), from front office down to the players, everybody,” Jefferson said to New York media upon his arrival. “So it was very tough for me to make that decision. My heart has always been there.”
He was making the transition to off-ball linebacker full-time this offseason before deciding to retire and during his two stints with the Ravens combined, he appeared in 39 games, made 35 starts, and recorded 174 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, eight quarterback hits, two interceptions, 12 pass deflections, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Ravens Veteran WR Suffers Shoulder Injury
In roster news, on Wednesday, head coach John Harbaugh said veteran wide receiver Michael Thomas suffered a shoulder injury that may require surgery.
“Michael Thomas separated his shoulder kind of leaning for a ball, and he ended up falling and landed on his shoulder,” he said. “That could be a surgery, possibly, for his labrum. We’ll see.”
He was signed to the team’s practice squad late last season and in his career, has played in 76 career games where he has recorded 30 receptions for 366 yards and one touchdown. He spent the first four years of his career with the Los Angeles Rams and the last three in the AFC North with the Cincinnati Bengals before being released and picked up by the Ravens in December.