New York Jets: Three aftershocks from the Marcus Maye franchise tag

Maye will officially play the 2021 season on a franchise tag. How will that affect the New York Jets’ ongoing rebuild?

Tag, Marcus Maye is it.

Thursday marked the deadline for Maye and the New York Jets to come to a long-term deal. With the 4 p.m. cutoff long breached, Maye will play the 2021 season on a franchise tag worth over $10 million.

While the tag has Maye listed as the sixth-richest safety in football, there seems to a lingering sense of iciness between the safety and the team. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has claimed that tensions rose long before Thursday’s final horn, saying that the Jets’ offer went drastically lower than what Maye would be offered with the tag. Thus, 2021 has the makings of a lame duck season for Maye, who is coming a career-best campaign.

How does this affect the Jets this season and beyond? ESM investigates…

ashtyn davis, new york giants

Ashtyn Can’t Butcher An Opportunity

After the Jamal Adams saga ended in a fruitful trade, Maye stepped up and perhaps created this whole controversy in the first place. A similar opportunity awaits Ashtyn Davis, a second year strong safety who is projected to line up next to Maye this season.

Davis, a third-round pick out of Cal during the virtual draft of 2020, went from walk-on to projected day two choice, perhaps falling out of the second round due to surgery following his senior campaign. His rookie season was a bit of a wash, as he struggled when thrust into action after Adams was traded and Seattle arrival Bradley McDougald was lost to an injury. Davis likewise fell victim to a foot injury that ended his year after six games (one start).

Praised for his athleticism and physicality, the Jets hope that Davis can enjoy a breakout campaign similar to what Maye experienced last season. Beyond him, the secondary depth chart is disturbingly thin: Las Vegas import LaMarcus Joyner, 30, brings experience but will need a truly impressive season to factor in the Jets’ long-term plans. At cornerback, the Jets stockpiled project defenders like Michael Carter II, Jason Pinnock, and Brandin Echols. Starters Bless Austin and Bryce Hall have a lot of upside, but are no guarantee.

Needless to say, a Davis breakthrough would definitely give their defense a clearer path toward the future.

New York Giants, Jabrill Peppers
Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Safety First

There’s plenty of time for Maye and the Jets to change each other’s minds and it’s probably far too late in the offseason to consider a trade. But all signs currently point to a separation come next spring, so the Jets have to start planning now.

Both the 2022 free agency and draft classes have some strong names to keep an eye on. Marcus Williams, with whom Maye is tied in 2021 salary, should be one the marquee names, followed by Jabrill Peppers. The incoming rookie class is headlined by Notre Dame’s Kyle Hamilton (who could very well be a top ten pick) while redshirt sophomore Brandon Joseph could be an intriguing pick with the latter first round pick from the Seahawks. New York is currently projected to work with over $71 million in cap space in 2022, third-best in the league behind Indianapolis and Pittsburgh.

Frankly, the potential Maye exit always applies a certain amount of pressure of the offense. The past offseason saw the Jets in such dire straits that it was a near guarantee that at least one area was going to be neglected. A majority of the Jets’ offseason resources were shifted toward the offense and front seven, including free agency dollars (Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, Carl Lawson, Jarrad Davis). Their primary draft picks were dedicated to the offense, as each of their first four choices (Zach Wilson, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Elijah Moore, and Michael Carter) have been hired to put points on the board. If the anemic offense shows no signs of improving the season, the  secondary could wind up woefully neglected again.

New York Jets, Joe Douglas
Photo by Al Pereira/Getty Images)

Off-Broadway Joe

It doesn’t do anyone much good to write Maye’s New York farewell song just yet. But, if these next 17 games make up his final hours in green, it continues two disturbing trends in recent Jets history.

With Maye’s New York future in doubt, the 2017 draft class is officially an endangered species. Nothing more needs to be written about top pick Adams, but the class has been a scourge on not only the Jets, but the league as well. Three of the nine picks (including third-round receiver ArDarius Stewart) are already out of football and only one beyond the safeties (Texan-turned-Lion Chad Hansen) appeared in 2020 regular season action.

The Jets have not only had trouble drafting, they’ve had troubling keeping the homegrown talent that appears to have a future. Maye appeared to be on pace to break that trend, but the past few weeks have only commenced a countdown to his departure.

Could this serve as a commentary on the Joe Douglas era?

It’s easy to view this situations from both sides: Douglas and company want to see how Maye performs in year two of the post-Adams era and they save some money in the short and long-run (maybe the immediate savings could go toward secondary help and a backup quarterback…?). Maye believes he’s a top ten safety and wants to be paid as such.

No one can deny that Douglas knows the team’s needs and can work with an offseason budget, at least on paper. But there could be a lingering side effect of free agents being scared away by Douglas’ unwillingness to deal pricy long-term deals?

Simply put, there’s a little more pressure on the 2021 Jets to perform now, to showcase visible signs of improvement. Again, asking them to make the postseason leap seems like a little much: they’re trapped in a division with America’s powerful football sweethearts in Buffalo and there are too many established contenders to leapfrog for the wild card. But there has to be at least some semblance of hope out there, a “throat-clearing” year of sorts, something similar to what the Los Angeles Chargers did with Justin Herbert in tow.

Entering Herbert’s rookie year, there wasn’t much to be excited about from an LA perspective. They seemed destined for a rebuild period and were struggling to attract fans even when they were allowed to play in front of a crowd. But the Chargers went on to surprise a lot of people. Herbert had an exemplary rookie season and the team won seven games. Even their losses were impressive: they took Kansas City and New Orleans to overtime and sheer bad luck probably kept them away from a winning record.

Seven of the Chargers’ nine losses came by single digits and they won each of their final four games following a December shellacking from New England. Los Angeles is now everyone’s NFL preview dark horse and the good vibes attracted new starters like Corey Linsley, Oday Aboushi, Matt Feiler, and Jared Cook to the cause.

Patience has paid off in the early stages of this New York rebuilding stage. But in certain regards, the time is now.

How do you think the Jets’ plans will be affected by Maye’s franchise tag? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and keep the conversation going.

New York Jets: Breaking down 3 confirmed head coaching candidates (part 3)

New York Jets, Joe Brady

With the New York Jets now preparing for their second batch of interviews where they will condense the field to bring them into Florham Park. With that said, I broke down the Jets three defensive coordinator candidates, three offensive coordinator candidates, and now today is the mixed bag group. A former head coach, a rising secondary coach, and a young offensive coordinator drawing comps to Sean McVay.

Marvin Lewis (Former Bengals Head Coach)

Marvin Lewis began working as a graduate assistant and then later a linebacker’s coach for Idaho State. From there he parlayed his success there into gigs at Long Beach State, University of New Mexico and University of Pittsburgh. He had considerable success and within just eight years he received enough attention as a linebackers coach that he was brought up to the pro ranks. While at his first stop, the Steelers, he worked as a linebackers coach for three years. Then, Lewis received his shot with the Ravens as a defensive coordinator for five years, winning a Super Bowl during that time, before joining the Football Team in the same role for a season.

Despite his background, from 2003-2018, Marvin Lewis is best known for his resurrection of the Cincinnati Bengals franchise. In his 15 years he led the team to the playoffs seven times with a record of 131-122-3 but an 0-7 playoff record. Lewis was undoubtedly a capable and competent leader, but he failed to close when it mattered most on the biggest stage. The losses on the biggest stage ultimately led to the team, letting him go. Lewis, at 62 years old, is still trying to get back to coaching in the pros as he has been helping former Jets coach Herm Edwards in Arizona State, first as a consultant and now as a co-defensive coordinator.

Looking forward, Lewis is a leader and has proven that in his career. One has to wonder if maybe the time off benefited him by giving him time to reevaluate. I think Lewis has a shot of getting a hire in this cycle for a couple of reasons. The first being that he has proven capabilities of turning around a franchise. The other is that his years of connections give him a shot of assembling a talented staff. If a team is looking to rebuild and they want someone to see it through, Lewis is a strong candidate. If you want someone to take your team to that next step though, Lewis has not proven he can do that. The other flaw is his age, and how much longer he even wants to coach, this continues to further my belief that he is a transitional coaching candidate.

Joe Brady (Panthers Offensive Coordinator)

Joe Brady is someone I have highlighted in great lengths during this coaching search and it’s lead up. Brady is known as the 31-year-old offensive wiz kid from Carolina. The former college wide receiver began his coaching career at his alma mater, Willian & Marry. After rising to a linebackers coach position there, Brady received a shot to be a graduate assistant at Penn State. He then received a massive opportunity to receive the tutelage of Sean Payton as an offensive assistant for the New Orleans Saints where he was able to learn first hand how to conduct the offense. Then, he made a decision that Sean Payton at the time told him was a massive mistake, he bolted from New Orleans to head to nearby LSU as the passing game coordinator and receiver’s coach. That decision was not a mistake, but rather, the reason he is a candidate for a head coaching gig.

At LSU, en route to a national championship, Brady architected one of the top offenses in college football history. He took Joe Burrow and brought him from an average college quarterback that likely would be a late round draft pick to, a Heisman campaign, where he had a 76.3 completion percentage and produced a line of 5,671 yds, 60 TDs, and 6 INTs. Burrow took a massive leap and became the first overall selection in the draft. Brady also allowed guys like JaMarr Chase and Justin Jefferson to go from household names to one being a top 15 prospect in this draft class, Chase and one being labeled by some as the next star receiver in the NFL, in Jefferson. Now, since leaving LSU, the team and specifically offense was a shell of themselves and Brady’s exit has been widely attributed to why.

Joe Brady left LSU and took the jump to Carolina to coach under Matt Rhule as his offensive coordinator. The offense was not the most spectacular, but if you look at the jump that players took under his guidance that is indicative of success. Mike Davis filled in masterfully for Christian McCaffery being able to jump into his role to an extent and keep the train moving. Guys like Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson and Ian Thomas all took massive leaps and proved themselves as legitimate offensive weapons under Joe Brady as well. Brady was able to adapt consistently, instilling a game plan for former XFL star PJ Walker’s first career start on Thursday Night Football that played off his strengths.

Brady has proven to be moldable, adaptable and innovative in his brief but impressive coaching career. He has drawn comparisons to Sean McVay leading many to think he is the next star coach. I have qualms with how he would build a staff based on his minimal coaching experience and I wonder about his leadership based on his youth. With that said though, it sounds like if Terry Fontenot, a New Orleans Saints executive, lands the Atlanta Falcons general manager position, Brady will likely follow him. The Jets were reportedly impressed by him and he was in the select few of candidates they believe could get a second interview. Ultimately, it sounds as though Atlanta is the likeliest home though.

Aaron Glenn (Saints Secondary Coach)

Aaron Glenn is an intriguing coaching candidate. The former New York Jets defensive back is a former All American and has been inducted into the Texas A&M sports hall of fame before being drafted by Gang green with the 12th selection in the 1994 draft. Glenn played for the organization for seven years before being taken by the Houston Texans in the expansion draft. He then played for the Texans, Cowboys, Jaguars and Saints before retiring in 2008. He then spent some time in various capacities, including time away from the game, before taking a general manager position with the Houston Stallions of the Lonestar Football League. He spent a year there before joining the Jets as a scout. Then, Glenn began his coaching career.

The former pro bowler received an opportunity to work as the assistant defensive backs coach for two seasons in Cleveland. The Browns provided him a shot at coaching and launched his career. The Saints then brought Glenn on in the 2016 season as a defensive backs coach, and he’s done wonders for the secondary in his time there. Glenn has been able to elevate the level of play of guys like Marcus Williams and Ken Crawley among others. Glenn has been able to be a hands on teacher and he’s learned from a great in Bill Parcells.

Glenn is a leader and a well-connected coach. His former playing days give him extensive ties for a potential staff. However, he has minimal coaching experience running a system or implementing a scheme. Glenn deserves defensive coordinator looks, but the premise of hiring Glenn before he even gets to control a side of the football does not instill me with the most confidence. He is a smart football mind, making him a dark horse for the job. However, if the Jets go with a young offensive mind, hiring Glenn as a DC would be a home run.