Earlier this offseason there seemed to be a ton of optimism that a long-term deal would be reached between the New York Jets and Marcus Maye.
At the state of the union presser on March 3, general manager Joe Douglas made his stance clear that keeping Maye in a Gang Green uniform was an offseason priority:
“We have had productive conversations with his representatives. Our stance on Marcus hasn’t changed as well. Marcus is a valuable member of this organization. Someone that started his career here, someone that’s been a pro’s pro. He’s smart, reliable, and has provided outstanding leadership. Our plan hasn’t changed. We’re in the process of working to have Marcus be here long term.”
Head coach Robert Saleh reiterated that stance on May 8 to the local media, “Joe and his staff are working relentlessly to get something done.”
That positivity apparently has dissipated.
Things Are Going South
On March 9 the Jets placed the franchise tag on Maye to prevent him from reaching unrestricted free agency.
In theory, it was supposed to serve as a placeholder, while the Jets and Maye’s representation negotiate behind the scenes in good faith.
Speaking of his agent, Erik Burkhardt was unhappy with how the Jets were handling things and he took to social media to share his displeasure:
…Yet refuse to take care of their best player, Captain, & team-voted MVP in his prime who had several All-Pro votes…and who played out his entire rookie deal and even changed positions on his contract year (after they got rid of last yrs All-Pro safety). ✌🏼
— Erik Burkhardt (@ErikBurkhardt) March 3, 2021
Maye signed his franchise tender on March 20 which guaranteed him $10.6 million for the upcoming 2021 season. Although as soon as he did that, the 28-year-old lost his leverage.
That was one of the main reasons why Rich Cimini of ESPN recently said, “don’t count” on a long term extension happening this offseason:
“The big question here is whether the Jets can get Maye signed to a long-term extension by the July 15 deadline. Don’t count on it. He already has signed his franchise-tag tender ($10.6 million), so there’s no threat of him boycotting mandatory practices.”
Not Extending Maye Would Be a Major Mistake
While the Jets hold the cards now that Maye has signed his tender, they shouldn’t give up on a potential long-term extension.
They still have a month and a half to work out a contract to fulfill the words of Joe Douglas ahead of the July 15 deadline. After that moment, the next negotiating window won’t re-open until the conclusion of the 2021 season.
Douglas once said he wanted former Jets star Jamal Adams to be “a Jet for life.” A short while later he was dealt away in a blockbuster deal to the Seattle Seahawks.
Earlier this offseason he said Maye was in the team’s long-term plans. Douglas also said that he wants to build this roster through the NFL draft, now it’s time to put the money where his mouth is.
The green and white have 90 players currently on the roster, but only one of them was originally drafted by the team and received a second contract. No wonder the Jets haven’t been to the playoffs since 2010.
Technically the only player that fits that bill is Maye, who was given the franchise tag. Although it’s time to remove the technical tag and actually hand the former Florida Gator a long-term deal.
He’s exactly the kind of player you want to build around. Maye is a captain, a former team MVP, and a really good NFL player.
Douglas said his strategy moving forward is drafting players, developing them, and ultimately re-signing them. He has that opportunity with Maye.
Handing the former second-round pick a contract makes sense because he deserves it. An extension would also send a strong message to the locker room and the rest of the NFL that players will get what they deserve.
If Douglas really wants to create the best culture in sports, it starts with him being a man of his word.