Marcus Maye becomes latest safety unhappy with New York Jets as contract saga lingers

ByRich Cimini ESPN logo
Saturday, July 31, 2021

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For the second year in a row, the New York Jets have an unhappy safety.

Marcus Maye expressed frustration Saturday that a long-term contract wasn't reached by the July 15 deadline for franchise-tagged players. He hinted he hasn't ruled out asking for a trade if he's tagged again in 2022.

"I've got 17 weeks to be the best that I can be -- and once we get to that point, we'll cross that line again," he said, commenting on whether he has approached the Jets about a trade.

In July 2020, the Jets traded Maye's close friend, safety Jamal Adams, after a contract dispute. Adams had two years left on his contract and demanded a trade.

Maye is more reserved than Adams, but he left no doubt that he's not pleased to be playing on a one-year deal. His salary is $10.6 million, the tag amount for safeties. Asked if he felt he was treated fairly during negotiations, Maye said, "To say fair, unfair ... I'd say somewhere in the middle.

"From my end, I wasn't happy. I wasn't satisfied."

Maye, speaking to reporters for the first time since last season, said he was "hoping to get things done and get settled, but it didn't get to that point."

The Jets had said it was a priority to extend Maye, but the two sides never got close to a deal by the July 15 deadline, a source said. If they tag him next year, the amount would be $12.7 million, the mandatory 20% raise for a second tag.

Maye said he wants to play "wherever I'm welcome. I was drafted here. I'd love to be here."

The former second-round pick, 28, is coming off his best season. He started 16 games, intercepted two passes, recorded two sacks and forced two fumbles. He was a captain and was voted the Jets' MVP, albeit on a 2-14 team.

He wants to be one of the highest-paid safeties. The highest, based on average per year, is the Denver Broncos' Justin Simmons ($15.25 million).

"There are a lot of great guys in this league," Maye said, "and I feel like I'm right there with all of them."

It's possible the Jets want to see how he fits into coach Robert Saleh's system before making a long-term commitment.

"Marcus is a professional. He's been playing for a while ... so he's been through it," Saleh said. "He's seen the business side of it. And just like every player, he's got full control over the way he shows up to work every single day and he's got full control over what he puts on tape, and what he's put on tape is pretty good."