marcus maye jeff ulbrich jets
Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Marcus Maye is out for the year with a torn Achilles.

Marcus Maye‘s 2021 season is over.

Given his contract situation (he’s currently on the franchise tag), his Jets tenure may be over as well.

The safety suffered an Achilles tear in Thursday night’s loss to the Colts. Head coach Robert Saleh noted after the game it “didn’t look good” and then confirmed his lengthy recovery timetable when speaking to the media Friday.

Maye was one of the team’s top defensive weapons and the glue of the young secondary. But he was also a true pro.

Despite the contract dilemma, Maye was a team-first guy; he was never one to implement a selfish mindset even with the potential payday that could’ve been on the table following this season.

Current and former players understand that situation Maye was in. Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich finds himself in the latter category after playing for San Francisco from 2000-09. Thus, admiration for the defensive back and the way he handled himself is truly present.

“It’s heartbreaking,” Ulbrich told Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post and the rest of the media Friday. “He’s a guy that, obviously he’s in the midst of a contract year and a lot of guys, as you guys know, normal football in this league has shown what the guys in those situations, a lot of times, can become very selfish and they can become, and I get that too, I acknowledge, recognize, this is a business and guys are trying to make as much money as possible. Sometimes, that can get them twisted up and they become not the teammates they were or the players that they were because they get so twisted up by the contract. But what is absolutely so heartbreaking with Marcus is he never was that guy.

“He came into work every day and worked his ass off, unselfishly…He laid it on the line every single time we went out there. Practice, games. It’s heartbreaking from that standpoint and it’s heartbreaking selfishly for our standpoint as a Jets defense because he’s a guy, he’s the communicator back there, he’s the general back there, he’s the one that helps us get on the same page, he’s the guy with the moxie and the savviness to anticipate and communicate pre-snap indicators and the whole deal. And he’s a guy that’s been a reliable eraser for us. He’s really helped limit explosives at times when he’s been healthy so he will be sorely missed, and we got a group of guys who are going to have to step up.”

It’s very unclear where Maye goes from here.

General manager Joe Douglas has shown a tendency not to value the safety position as much as he does other roles. Before he decided to keep Maye on the tag and not sign him to a long-term deal ahead of this season, Douglas traded Jamal Adams instead of extending him in 2020.

Gang Green’s front office leader won’t budge and overpay at the position — you could argue he’ll carry out that same procedure with Maye once the offseason arrives.

Whether Maye wishes to remain in Florham Park in 2022 and beyond, Douglas’ ways and this injury won’t provide him with much leverage in any contract talks.

Regardless, the 2-6 Jets must move forward in the final nine games of the regular season plus the playoffs should they somehow turn their losing ways around. Second-year man Ashtyn Davis is expected to assume an enhanced role in the deep part of the field. With Maye gone, this secondary just became even younger — Davis and cornerback Bryce Hall are expected to lead the group.

Onwards and upwards for the entire 11-man unit. Well, at least we hope so…its first task in the post-Maye era of 2021 comes against Josh Allen and the almighty Bills next Sunday afternoon.

Follow Ryan Honey on Twitter: @RyanHoneyESNY

Listen to ESNY’s Wide Right Podcast on Apple here or on Spotify here.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.