New York Jets give Marcus Maye franchise tag: What it means ahead of free agency
The New York Jets aren't letting Marcus Maye hit free agency.
The team on Monday night used the franchise tag on Maye, before Tuesday's deadline. It means they have until July 15 to negotiate an extension with Maye. If the two sides don't come to an agreement, Maye would play on the tag in 2021, and earn around $10.5 million according to OverTheCap.com.
The salary cap has not yet been set by the league, so the salary number could change.
The move by general manager Joe Douglas was no surprise. Maye is one of the team's best players and has grown into one of the Jets' most important locker room leaders. Had they let him test the open market, they would have risked losing him for nothing.
This gives the Jets time to work out a long-term extension, if that's what they want to do. It also gives them the option to wait another year and try to sign Maye to an extension after this season. Either way, paying Maye $10.5 million in 2021 is perfectly reasonable and probably a bargain. Maye has grown into one of the best free safeties in the league in four seasons with the Jets, who took him in the second round of the 2017 draft.
Retaining Maye will impact the Jets' salary cap situation ahead of free agency, which begins on March 15. But the Jets, who will have about $64 million in cap space after tagging Maye, still have the cash to outspend nearly every other team. So it shouldn't handcuff them.
There's also the chance that Maye could refuse to play for the franchise tag and hold out for a long-term contract. But that seems unlikely, even though Maye's representation publicly expressed dissatisfaction with the Jets in recent days.
Last week Maye's agent, Erik Burkhardt, responded to a Tweet about Maye by saying "the Jets refuse to take care of their best player."
Douglas responded to the comment during a Wednesday press conference and said that it was "part of negotiating" and that it wouldn't prevent the Jets from reaching their goal: to sign Maye to a long-term contract.
In an ideal world, Maye, who turns 28 on Tuesday, would get that contract now. But the Jets have the leverage and incentive to wait before committing to him long-term. And while it isn't perfect for Maye at this moment, it could work out for him in the long run.
If he continues to improve in his fifth season, he could be due for an even bigger contract after next season. And even if he doesn't, the $10.5 million per year will nearly double the $6.5 million total he made in the first four years of his career.
Andy Vasquez is the Jets beat writer for NorthJersey.com. Follow him on Twitter @andy_vasquez. For unlimited access to all Jets analysis, news, trades and more, please subscribe today and download our app.