The franchise-tagged safety will need to miss the next few weeks due to an ankle injury. But will he even be a Jet for much longer?
The fifth-year safety wished for a long-term deal after the team franchise tagged him back in March. Both sides had until July 15 at 4:00 p.m. ET to come to fruition on a new contract.
However, that date came and went without any sort of agreement between Maye and general manager Joe Douglas. Maye was thus set to play out the 2021 campaign on the one-year, $10.612 million tag, which he’s currently doing.
His season has begun relatively strong despite the Jets’ rough 0-3 start, but on Wednesday, it came to a halt. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Maye would be missing 3-4 weeks due to an ankle injury, which could cause him to sit out each of the next three games.
No, it’s not a long-term injury, or at least it’s not expected to be. But it could become an issue that ends all speculation that he’s on his way out of Florham Park, and instead, confirms it.
The injury could diminish his value
Joe Douglas understands positional value.
He was more willing to trade Jamal Adams, a box safety, to Seattle than sign him to a $70 million contract, which is what the Seahawks eventually did.
And Douglas was right for doing so — the Jets were in the midst of a rebuild and he couldn’t be spending too much money in one area.
So if Douglas decided to ship Adams off and not throw a significant chunk of change his way, did you think he was going to open the wallet for Maye? Especially considering the Jets are undergoing a larger restart than they were when they traded Jamal?
If Douglas is eventually going to pay Maye, he probably needs to see a tremendous 2021 campaign out of him. And right now, it’s unclear if Maye can really construct that type of performance given he’ll be missing multiple games.
One of the arguments for paying Maye was that, in recent years, he was capable of providing the No. 1 ability of any NFL player: availability. Maye played in all 16 regular-season games in both 2019 and 2020.
But since he may miss three games (maybe more, maybe fewer), that cannot be said anymore of the 28-year-old safety.
His age was already a factor and so was Douglas’ way of doing business. Now, the health concerns might play a role as well, which could make it that much harder for Maye to land a new deal after 2021.
A potential trade?
Maye wasn’t exactly thrilled a long-term deal wasn’t finalized, and thanks to a cryptic tweet from his agent, there’s belief he could be out of Florham Park before season’s end.
Should be back fully healthy just before the trade deadline… ? https://t.co/7AADZwgLAy
— Erik Burkhardt (@ErikBurkhardt) September 29, 2021
The trade deadline lands on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 4:00 p.m. ET. If Maye does return within four weeks from Wednesday, which is Oct. 27, the Jets could strike a deal with someone should Marcus wish to depart.
Maye isn’t as talented as Adams, so don’t expect the type of return the Jets received from the 2020 Jamal deal, or really even close to it. But given Douglas’ track record, I could see the Jets acquiring some sort of package that includes a 2022 second-round draft pick.
If anything, they could at least get a third-rounder, which may be a more realistic return given Maye’s current salary and increasing age.
Don’t forget, Maye will be 29 years old next March. So for any possible trade partner, there might not be a ton of upside signing him to a three- or four-year deal that doesn’t run out until he’s 32 or 33. This is why the third-round pick return may be more appropriate.
Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY