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Tony Jefferson cashes in on big season, signs with Ravens

The young safety has become one of the NFL’s most reliable defensive backs in coverage.

Seattle Seahawks v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

One of the unsung heroes of the Arizona Cardinals’ defense over the past few seasons, safety Tony Jefferson, has signed a long-term contract with the Ravens.

Jefferson, an undrafted free agent in 2013, has been one of the most effective yet under-the-radar safeties in the NFL. With only two career interceptions and six forced fumbles, Jefferson hasn’t necessarily earned his reputation by making flashy, game-changing plays. Rather, it’s been the safety’s consistency in coverage, run support, and even as a pass-rusher that earned him the contract.

After tallying 79 and 78 tackles in 2014 and 2015 respectively, Jefferson stepped up and led his team with 96 in 2016. Though he didn’t pick off a pass this year, the safety managed to add five pass breakups, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and two sacks. With five sacks over the past three seasons, Jefferson has proven to be a solid blitzer from the safety position.

Just the Broncos, Seahawks, and Texans have surrendered less than the Cardinals’ 313.5 yards per game over the past two seasons. Jefferson’s playmaking ability and consistency on the back end of the defense has been a major factor in Arizona’s success.

Jefferson will be able to boost a Ravens’ secondary that’s typically a strong unit year in and year out.