A second-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, Maye slowly developed into a quality starting safety over the first few years of his career. And in 2020, the former Florida star broke out and put together his best NFL season.
Maye finished as Pro Football Focus‘ fifth-ranked safety earning a stellar 82.8 grade. His elite 85.8 coverage grade ranked fourth among all safeties as Maye was legitimately one of the best players at his position this past year.
He finished with career highs in nearly every major box score category recording the most tackles, passes defended, sacks, tackles for loss, and interceptions of his career en route to receiving four All-Pro votes — the most of any Jets player.
Now set to hit the open market for the first time in his career, the Jets are faced with a very interesting decision. Of course, they’ll want to bring him back, but how much will they be willing to pay?
For starters, how much will they have to pay?
What is Marcus Maye’s market value?
Spotrac currently projects Maye’s market value at just under $10 million per season, with a total projected contract of four years, $39.9 million. That figure would rank him as the 10th-highest-paid safety by average annual value.
It’s hard to argue that deal would be anything other than a steal.
Maye was a top-five safety in the league in 2020 and his value to an inexperienced Jets secondary is immeasurable. Landing an undisputed top-10 safety for just about $10 million per season would be excellent value.
Maye will turn 28-years-old in March meaning that this is likely his only chance to earn a significant payday. As a result, don’t be surprised if he tries to work the market to increase his value.
Worst comes to worst, the franchise tag for safeties would be a very reasonable $11.2 million which is right around what Devin McCourty is set to make in 2021. Considering that Budda Baker and Eddie Jackson are making close to $15 million AAV, that’s a pretty good deal.
Should the NY Jets re-sign Marcus Maye?
There’s no doubt that Maye is the Jets’ most valuable and important free agent this offseason. On a team that has struggled to develop and retain homegrown talent, Maye has a chance to be an outlier.
Since the 2013 NFL Draft class, only three players drafted by the Jets have received second contracts — Brian Winters, Quincy Enunwa, and Jordan Jenkins. And it’s hard to even count Jenkins’ one-year, $5 million deal as a “second contract.”
Maye is one of the most talented players on the roster, a team captain, and a valued member of one of the weaker position groups on the team. The Jets should do everything in their power to bring him back.
If his market gets out of hand (unlikely given his age and prior injury history), the Jets could instead opt to place the franchise tag on him and revisit a long-term extension next offseason.
And that’s the route they should take if they can’t get a deal done this spring.
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Will the NY Jets re-sign Marcus Maye?
I’d expect the Jets to do everything possible to ensure Maye doesn’t walk for free in free agency. General manager Joe Douglas has notably been stingy in the past and has been reluctant to exceed past his set price point.
We’ve seen that work with players like Brian Poole and Jordan Jenkins in the past, but we’ve also seen the opposite effect with Robby Anderson. Douglas must avoid an Anderson-like situation with Maye.
That’s where the franchise tag will come into play. Assuming the Jets find that $11.2 million price tag reasonable (which they absolutely should), Maye should be back no matter what.
The overwhelming odds are that Maye returns in 2021, at the very least on a one-year franchise tag.
Don’t expect the Jets to make the same mistake they did with Anderson.
Odds of re-signing: 85%