Jets Ex-Captain Poached by Cowboys in Free Agency Prediction

Marcus Maye, Dak Prescott

Getty New York Jets safety Marcus Maye tackles Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott on October 13, 2019.

The New York Jets have two former defensive captains that are set to hit free agency in 2022 — safety Marcus Maye and defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi.

If these two decide to leave New York, as well as fellow free agent D-tackle Nathan Shepherd, there won’t be a single Jets defender remaining from the 2018 unit. This house cleaning isn’t just possible either, it’s becoming probable as we head towards March.

ESPN beat reporter Rich Cimini wrote that “it would be a surprise if Maye returns” and that it “sounds like this relationship has run its course,” in early February. Fatukasi and Shepherd are also question marks to return after contributing to the NFL’s 29th-ranked run defense in 2021. Neither seems like a great fit in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 as the roster continues its transition from the lengthy 3-4 coaching era that included Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles, Gregg Williams and more.

So, where might the ex-team leaders go if they walk? One NFL analyst believes Maye could be headed to the Dallas Cowboys.

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Cowboys Get Jets Safety Years After Jamal Adams Fiasco

During a recent “updated landing spots” article from Pro Football Focus, Arjun Menon has Maye signing a one-year $6 million deal with America’s Team. He wrote:

Maye has always graded well, but 2021 was a down year for him. Primarily a free safety when Jamal Adams was on the team, Maye transitioned to more of a box safety role once Adams left, though he still played snaps on the back end. After receiving the franchise tag last offseason and underperforming, he may have to agree to a shorter deal, especially given that he will be 28 years old when next season starts. The Cowboys need a free safety, and Maye can be the centerfielder in Dan Quinn’s scheme. Quinn also likes to play single-high-safety concepts (second-most single-high-safety snaps in the regular season), so Maye would be a great fit.

This does make a ton of sense and it’s not the first time we’ve heard that the Cowboys are interested in Maye, or a Jets safety in general. Dallas commonly came up in trade scenarios back in October and remember that Jerry Jones was supposedly in on Adams before Joe Douglas sent him to Seattle.

A move like this would also be exactly what the former second-round pick is looking for. He needs to recoup his value this year and what better way to do that then with a relatively consistent postseason contender and a respected defensive coordinator in Quinn?

The Cowboys-Jets safety connection feels like it’s been a long time coming and Maye could finally complete this link in 2022 with a signing.

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Which Jets Free Agents Could Return?

Looking at the Green & White’s crop of free agents in 2022, there aren’t too many guarantees that are expected to re-sign.

It does feel like Douglas will make a strong effort to bring back Berrios — and to some extent Fatukasi — but both will probably come down to what type of financials they receive from other teams. The Jets may get the opportunity to match any offers but don’t expect them to overpay. That’s not Douglas’ style.

Two players I do expect back are kicker Eddy Pineiro and quarterback Mike White. Both earned their way back onto this roster this season and the Jets would be foolish to let either skip town.

A Laurent Duvernay-Tardif reunion also seems feasible, now that he’s cleared things up with his medical practice, and perhaps we’ll see some more minor pieces come back. Javelin Guidry, Tim Ward, Kyle Phillips, Dan Feeney, Jeff Smith, and even veteran Tevin Coleman would not surprise me one bit.

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