The New York Jets and Marcus Maye were unable to reach an agreement on a long-term contract Thursday, so the star safety will play this season under his franchise tag tender.
The sides had until 4 p.m. to work out a deal, per NFL rules. Maye will make $10.6 million this season and is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent next offseason.
The Jets could try to work out a long-term deal after the season or allow Maye to explore free agency. New York could also opt to use the franchise tag on Maye again, preventing him from becoming a free agent for one more year — which would likely cause more tension between the sides.
The 28-year-old Maye signed his franchise tag tender in March and the sides had some talks during the offseason, but couldn’t get a deal done.
Chicago wide receiver Allen Robinson, New Orleans safety Marcus Williams, Jacksonville offensive tackle Cam Robinson, Tampa Bay wide receiver Chris Godwin and Washington guard Brandon Scherff also received franchise tags and were unable to come to agreements on long-term deals with their teams by the deadline.
Maye was drafted by the Jets in the second round out of Florida in 2017 and has been a steady playmaker and leader for New York. General manager Joe Douglas said in January that Maye’s contract situation would be a top priority for the team this offseason.
The safety reported for the team’s mandatory minicamp in June, but declined to speak to reporters. So it was uncertain whether Maye was optimistic — or otherwise — about a deal getting done with the Jets.
Maye was the first Jets player to be tagged since Muhammad Wilkerson in 2016. Unlike Maye, Wilkerson signed a long-term contract later that offseason.
Maye is expected to team with veteran Lamarcus Joyner, a free agent signing in March, as New York’s starting safeties this season. Maye’s versatility has made him a valuable part of the secondary, including playing in coverage and close to the line of scrimmage — taking over the role previously held by Jamal Adams. That makes him an ideal fit in the defense of coach Robert Saleh and coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.
Maye, voted the Jets’ MVP by his teammates last season, had 78 tackles, two interceptions, two sacks, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a team-leading 11 passes defensed. A team captain, the safety has six career interceptions, 22 passes defensed and 257 total tackles.