The Vikings have announced today that cornerback A.J. Jefferson has signed his restricted free agent tender, officially returning to the team for 2013. Jefferson, who was undrafted out of Fresno State in 2010, came to Minnesota via a trade last September. He wound up starting seven games, thrust into a heightened role in the second half of the season after Chris Cook broke his wrist in a Week 8 loss to Tampa Bay.

Jefferson became a restricted free agent last month but there was never any doubt that he'd be back with the Vikings.

According to team stats, Jefferson recorded 31 tackles and 13 passes defensed last season. Upon Cook's return late in the year, he slid inside as the Vikings' nickel back. But he may have an elevated role again in 2013 depending on what the Vikings do in the draft and how the free-agent decision of Antoine Winfield plays out.