For much of the New York Jets’ 2021 offseason, it’s been peaches and rainbows. They have a brand new head coach in Robert Saleh, a talented rookie quarterback in Zach Wilson that a lot of people are high on, and a fresh energy in the building.
Apparently, everything hasn’t been going as smoothly as it appeared from the outside looking in.
Throughout the offseason, the Jets have stated publicly on multiple occasions that they’re aggressively trying to re-sign Maye to a long-term deal to keep him in green and white.
Rapoport shared a different side of the story saying “negotiations went south” weeks ago. That was highlighted by the Jets reportedly offering the former Florida Gator a contract that was “about 20 percent below” the franchise tag amount for 2021 ($10.6M).
Maye turned that offer down and pointed to several NFL teams in free agency that were willing to cough up not only more money on a per-year basis but stronger guarantees as well.
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Journalist Antenna Is Going off Big Time Here
This is a fascinating report from Rapoport, but everyone’s journalist antenna should be going off big time here. This information that was shared seems to be coming from Maye’s camp and specifically his agent Erik Burkhardt.
Burkhardt is putting major public pressure on the Jets more than 48 hours ahead of the franchise tag deadline.
If Gang Green and Maye are unable to agree to a long-term extension ahead of Thursday, July 15, then he’ll be forced to play out 2021 on the franchise tag.
This isn’t the first time that Burkhardt has attempted this strategy.
Back in March, ahead of free agency, Burkhardt ripped the Jets publicly stating, “they refuse to take care of their best player, captain, and team voted MVP in his prime and a guy who played out his entire rookie deal and changed positions in a contract year.”
Maye’s agent was responding to a tweet about the Jets having a ton of cap space.
This Sets up a Very Awkward Situation
You can really understand where both sides are coming from.
Maye is a respected team leader that has been putting in the work since being selected No. 39 overall out of the second round of the 2017 NFL draft.
While from the Jets’ perspective, as much as they’d like to retain talented players they’ve drafted, everything is on a case-by-case basis. In this particular case, they’re dealing with a 28-year old safety that’ll be 29 after the 2021 season.
Do they want to extend a guy who’s getting close to the wrong side of 30? Despite having a ton of money, general manager Joe Douglas has always been super selective about his team’s funds.
Remember Robby Anderson and his pending free agency? Douglas drew a line in the sand and said he wouldn’t go above the insert number. It ended up costing him the player, but he was steadfast in his beliefs and what he projects your value to be.
It’s a tough pickle here for the Jets.
The perception around the league is they don’t pay their players. There are two sides to that coin though.
They’ve drafted so terribly that there hasn’t been anyone that is worth paying. Now that they finally have someone they could pay, they’re factoring a variety of things: age, positional value, and future contracts coming down the line (Quinnen Williams is eligible for an extension in 2022).
Burkhardt is doing anything in his power to try to force the Jets to pay up, but their leverage disappeared the moment Maye signed his franchise tag tender back in the spring. Now that he’s under contract if he chooses to hold out from camp he’ll be fined up the wazoo.
Douglas doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that’ll be affected by public pressure, so this is likely going to be an ineffective strategy.
It seems like the two sides are headed for a stalemate ahead of the deadline and that’ll force Maye to play out 2021 on the tag. As for next year? The Jets could slap the tag on Maye again and hold him hostage until he’s 30 years of age, then they could cut bait.
While to many fans, this may seem messed up and a strange way to handle your business, this is probably in the best interest of the Jets’ long term.