2017 Raiders Free Agent Preview: Safety Tony Jefferson

Aug 12, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals safety Tony Jefferson (22) against the Oakland Raiders during a preseason game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Is there really fire to the Tony Jefferson-Oakland Raiders smoke? Are the Raiders going to pursue the talented free agent safety?

Nabbing Jefferson from the Arizona desert would certainly fill a need in the Raiders’ secondary. Blessed with good range and instincts, he can cover man-to-man. Plus, he serves as a willing run defender. The trio of Jefferson, Reggie Nelson and Karl Joseph gives the Raiders a stout safety stable. As a result, Jefferson’s arrival  may even make Nelson easier to cut. And at age 25, Jefferson, undrafted  out of Oklahoma is just scratching the surface.

However, will fantasy become reality? It is certainly hard to it ignore the back-and-forth on social media, when it comes to the 5-foot-11, 212-pound safety.

The Twitterverse exploded with banter from Jefferson himself noting “they know wassup lol” when he tweeted the Raiders defense “needs him”. He volunteered the fact that he grew up an  Oakland  fan.  Also, Jefferson used social media to contact the Raiders before. Last year, he entertained the move to Oakland before signing his tender offer. Now, he’s free to test the market, coming off a season of 96 tackles, 2 sacks and  a pair of forced fumbles.


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This begs a big question: Is the Twitter talk a leverage play? According to Spotrac, Jefferson’s value is $5.8 million annually. Plus, a four-year, $23.38 million pact projects  on other safeties’ contracts and performance. Those numbers are for strong safeties. Cost is quite more for free safeties, especially after Eric Berry’s deal (six years, $78 million) with the Chiefs.

It’s in Jefferson’s best interest to make as much money as he can, and no doubt his agent will be looking to land a max deal. CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora would be “absolutely shocked” if Jefferson returned to Arizona. Will it be general manager Reggie McKenzie and the Raiders offering the money to lure Jefferson?

We will find out when free agency opens in March 9.

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