Jets Fallen Star Named ‘Most Underrated Free Agent’ at Position

Marcus Maye

Getty New York Jets safety Marcus Maye breaks up a pass on December 20, 2020.

Some New York Jets fans may look at the group of impending free agents and say — let them all walk. After all, this was a two-win team in 2020 and a four-win team in 2021. These veterans obviously haven’t been getting it done so why should Gang Green make an effort to re-sign them?

Others will urge GM Joe Douglas to buck a trend and bring back players that have begun to change the culture at One Jets Drive. A team captain like Foley Fatukasi perhaps, or a key role player like Braxton Berrios.

Free agency will always be a hot topic among fans and the most polarizing free agent of all in 2022 might be safety Marcus Maye. He’s one year removed from a career campaign but he’s also coming off an absolutely miserable season in every way possible, ending in a torn Achilles injury that could set him back next year.

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Wise to Bet on a Bounce Back?

Pro Football Focus released their list of “underrated free agents at every position,” focusing on one for each. Anthony Treash wrote the article and his most underrated safety was Maye.

“Every fanbase wants their team to sign superstars in free agency, but a lot of times, it doesn’t quite work out that way,” Treash explained. “Most NFL teams have to settle for other options with the hopes that these low-cost players are just diamonds in the rough.”

Based on his injury, age, potential suspension after DUI charges, and general lackluster performance on the field in 2021, Maye’s stock has plummeted to all-time lows. If you believe the talent is still there, why not buy in at a premium value if you’re an outside observer?

That was Treash’s sentiment as well. He reasoned:

Maye is going to sign a one-year, prove-it deal in free agency after rupturing his Achilles in the midst of his 2021 campaign. The Jets safety’ role changed this past year (specifically, he played far more in the box), which played a part in a dip in PFF grade when on the field, but his multiple seasons of high grades at deep safety should spark draw interest from several teams. Since 2018, Maye owns the second-highest PFF grade at free safety — behind only Kevin Byard.

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Are the Jets Still in on a Reunion?

Some feel that there’s little-to-no chance Maye plays for the Jets ever again and that might be true. However, I’ve said before that I wouldn’t rule it out and I stand by that now.

The one outlier is Maye’s agent, Erik Burkhardt. He stirred up a ton of drama between his client and the Jets organization — pushing hard for an extension before news that his DUI arrest became public. Coincidence?

Douglas and head coach Robert Saleh backed Maye after the incident and claimed that charges have not broken trust between the two sides but who knows if that’s true. Free agency will be the final test of that.

It’s expected that the safety will have to take a one-year prove-it contract and that deal should certainly be affordable for NYJ. If they don’t choose to match it, or if Maye himself would rather move on, that’s the moment where you’ll find out if bridges were burnt last summer.

Safety is certainly a “need” position for the Jets and there’s no guarantee they win the bidding war on a free agent like Marcus Williams or Jessie Bates.

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