los angeles chargers

Chula Vista native Tony Jefferson ends NFL retirement, signs with Chargers

Safety signs a one-year deal after minicamp tryout

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Tony Jefferson still has football to play.

The Eastlake High School alum ended his 10-year NFL career after the 2022 season and a string of injuries. He spent a year as a scouting intern with the Ravens but kept himself in shape. As his training progressed, he realized his body was healing and that he wasn't done with the game.

Jefferson joined the Chargers for this week's minicamp on a tryout basis. He only had three days on the field, but that was enough.

On Friday the Chargers signed Jefferson to a one-year contract, ending his brief retirement and giving him a chance to make the 53-man roster when training camp starts in July. Defensive coordinator Jesse Minter was the safety's position coach in Baltimore. He knew what to look for, the indications Jefferson's body was going to allow him to be effective. But even more important, he knows the kind of guy they just added.

"Just a pro's pro that is very knowledgeable of some of the things we're doing defensively," Minter said of Jefferson. "He's also been a guy you can move around and put in different spots. You can play him at safety, you can play him at dime, you can play him at nickel. I think he still has some of those traits. It's certainly great to have him in here, and I think he really wants to play. It'll be interesting to see how it shakes out."

Jefferson played for the Ravens, Cardinals, 49ers and Giants, and was a locker-room favorite at every stop. It didn't take the Chula Vista native long to make an impression on Pro Bowl safety Derwin James, who is already a fan of having the veteran next to him in the secondary.

"Oh, yeah," James said. "He's a guy that was in the scheme and knows the different words, different terminology. So we're learning and stuff."

When asked if he hoped Jefferson would get a contract, James smiled broadly and said "Yeah, for sure. That allows me to move around."

James got his wish: Jefferson got his second chance. If healthy, the Bolts got a heck of football player.

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