Tony Jefferson is saying no to the extra bags of cash and yes to immediately contending for an AFC North title.
The safety, ranked No. 14 in NFL.com's Top 101 Free Agents, is expected to sign with the Baltimore Ravens, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported, per a source informed of the negotations. Rapoport added that Jefferson is walking away from a more lucrative offer from the Cleveland Browns to instead sign with the former Cleveland Browns, now known as the Ravens.
Cleveland had been reported as having a legitimate shot at signing the Cardinals safety on Wednesday afternoon, with NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reporting the Browns were offering way more money than the Ravens. But the Ravens have veteran safety Eric Weddle on their roster, who Garafolo suggested might have been the catalyst in convincing Jefferson to turn down the additional dollars to join the Ravens.
We won't get a Scrooge McDuck-diving-into-gold-coins celebration from Jefferson, but Baltimore will be getting a player who many considered to be the top safety on the market. NFL.com's Gregg Rosenthal and Chris Wesseling described Jefferson as "one of the league's unsung stars," who "outplayed the more ballyhooed Tyrann Mathieu last season, consistently making impact plays at the line of scrimmage as well as in coverage."
The addition gives Baltimore one of the league's more enviable safety pairings, despite Weddle being closer to the twilight of his career than the genesis. It brings more certainty to the back end of a secondary that has become unsettled with the release of corner Shareece Wright and safety Kendrick Lewis, and possible release of Lardarius Webb, who played safety in 2016. Jefferson's addition also brings instant personnel credibility to a unit that collectively overachieved in a late-season playoff push that ultimately fell short.
We can also chalk this up as the latest example of Baltimore yet again burning Cleveland, a long run of what must be payback for the Browns' unexpected triumph over the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game.