Marcus Maye is focused solely on the 2021 New York Jets season
The New York Jets have enough defensive issues heading into the 2021 NFL season. Marcus Maye has vowed that the debate surrounding his future won’t be one of them.
Maye re-affirmed his vow to play on a franchise tag for the 2021 season when speaking publicly prior to this weekend. The 28-year-old sought a long-term contract heading into his fifth professional season but no such agreement was reached.
But, unlike the ugliness that defined the end of the Jamal Adams era, Maye has no issues being a Jet for at least one more contracted season before re-opening discussions. He obviously hopes a long-term deal is heading his way in the near future, but the only green he’s worried about for now is the shade he’ll wear on Sundays.
“Winning games is first, that’s what you play the game for,” Maye said on Thursday, per team reporter Jack Bell. “Also, (you play it to) take care of your family and making sure you’re set up for the future. Control the controllable. If you have no control over something, there’s no point in getting all upset. If you’re not here to win games, then what are you doing this for?
“Once (contract talks) were over with, I just put it to the side and got back to the basics of playing football. Once I get on the grass I never worry about anything else.”
At only 28, Maye is the Jets’ longest-tenured active Jet. He’s an undisputed elder statesman in the Jets secondary, which further embraced its youth movement with the release of presumptive starting cornerback Bless Austin as management continues to tinker with the 53-man ledger.
With Austin gone, the Jets’ projected starting cornerbacks (Bryce Hall, Javelin Guidry, Brandin Echols) have a combined nine starts amongst them – seven coming from Hall during his rookie year.
Maye addressed his apparent displeasure with Austin’s departure on Thursday. Shortly after the news was announced, Maye tweeted for the first time in over two months, sharing only a facepalming emoji. He was afforded a more diplomatic approach in his public statements, substituting disappointment with surprise.
“It was surprising for me. I didn’t see it coming at all. I don’t think anybody did,” Maye said according to Max Goodman of SI.com. “It’s tough. I mean, he’s been a starter for us for the past two years. So I guess we just got to figure out what’s next now.”
Whatever’s next for the Jets’ defense, Maye is ready to play a big part in its immediate outlook, a challenge he’s ready to face head-on.
Maye admitted that it is a bit unusual to be the Jets’ most seasoned member in just his fifth NFL season. Change has been prevalent to a fault in the Jets’ locker room, which has bid farewell to countless familiar faces in their quest to end a playoff drought that has reached a decade.
“Each year (we’re) learning to adapt to what’s new,’’ Maye said of his Jets career to Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post. “You can’t sit here and worry about what year guys are in, how many years they’ve been playing. We’ve all got to find a way to get on the same page as fast as possible so we can go out and win games.’’
Working through his new role as veteran mentor and de facto secondary supervisor, Maye offered a positive report of his new wards. In addition to Echols, the Jets also added Michael Carter II and Jason Pinnock through the latter stages of the draft and Isaiah Dunn through undrafted free agency.
“These young guys, they’re not scared at all,” Maye said in Bell’s report. “They all want to learn, they all have the passion each day and come out to get better and better. I see them stacking their days. They all can fly around, come up and make tackles. It will be interesting to see all those guys get a shot.”
The Jets open their 2021 season on Sept. 12 against the Carolina Panthers (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags