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Safety Tony Jefferson coming out of retirement to sign with Chargers

Tony Jefferson is back in the NFL.

After impressing in a workout with the Los Angeles Chargers, the veteran safety is signing with the squad, which the team announced Friday.

Jefferson's second NFL chance comes with a clear connection: New Chargers general manager Joe Hortiz left Baltimore -- where Jefferson signed a four-year, $34 million deal in 2017 -- for Los Angeles in the winter. Hortiz has since brought a number of former Ravens with him to Southern California. Jefferson becomes the latest, joining a group that includes Gus Edwards, J.K. Dobbins, Hayden Hurst, Bradley Bozeman and Ben Mason.

Jefferson rose to prominence during his four seasons spent in Arizona, where compiled a career-best season in 2016, recording 96 tackles (13 for loss), two sacks, five passes defensed, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries. That showing earned him his deal with the Ravens, which was set to pay him $8.5 million per season.

Jefferson matched that productivity in his first two seasons with the Ravens before injuries derailed his journey, limiting him to five games in 2019 before the Ravens released him in 2020.

He spent the 2020 season out of football, landed back on injured reserve with the 49ers in 2021, returned to Baltimore for eight and a half months (appearing in four games), and continued to bounce around the league, eventually ending up with the Giants in 2022.

A foot injury ended that campaign prematurely and seemed to spell an end to his pro career. Jefferson announced his retirement in May 2023 and intended to start his next career as a scout with the Ravens before coming out of retirement in May 2024. With knowledge of Jefferson's past abilities, Hortiz decided to take a look at the familiar defender, and was convinced to give the 32-year-old another shot with Jim Harbaugh's new-look Chargers.

There's no guarantee Jefferson makes an impact, or even survives as part of the cut down to 53 at the end of camp. But it's an opportunity with a team run by a familiar figure. With a lengthy injury history trailing him, all Jefferson can ask for is a chance to play.

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