Veteran safety Tony Jefferson ends retirement, joins Chargers

LOS ANGELES -- The Chargers signed safety Tony Jefferson on Friday, the team announced.

Jefferson spent last season as a scouting intern with the Baltimore Ravens after announcing his retirement in May 2023. As an intern, he worked under current Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz, who was then the Ravens' director of player personnel.

Before turning to scouting, Jefferson played for 10 seasons in the NFL. That included 3½ seasons in Baltimore, where he worked with current Chargers defensive coordinator Jesse Minter, a defensive assistant and defensive backs coach for the Ravens from 2017 to 2020.

"Tony's a guy I've known since 2017 and just a pro's pro that is very knowledgeable of some of the things that we're doing defensively," Minter said. "... I think he really wants to play. He's got himself back into football shape over the last couple months, and so it'll be interesting to see how it shakes out."

Jefferson last played with the New York Giants in 2022, where he appeared in nine games and had 23 tackles.

The Chargers brought Jefferson in for the team's minicamp on a tryout basis, and he made a strong impression on teammates, including All-Pro safety Derwin James Jr.

James told reporters Thursday that Jefferson has helped players understand the terminology in Minter's scheme and that he hoped the team would sign Jefferson.

Jefferson, 32, will compete for the third spot on the Chargers' safety depth chart behind Alohi Gilman and James. It's an important position for the Chargers because James will likely play some slot cornerback, edge rusher and other positions on the defense.

James had alluded to that, telling reporters, "That allows me to move around a little bit."

Jefferson is the latest former Ravens player to join the Chargers, following a lengthy list that includes tight end Hayden Hurst, running backs Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, center Bradley Bozeman, and tight end Ben Mason.