Marcus Maye‘s agent expressed disappointment in how the Jets were proceeding with his client Wednesday. Following that comment, Joe Douglas insists the team’s long-term plan includes the talented safety.
Acquired before Douglas took over as GM in 2019, Maye is due for free agency in two weeks. However, the Jets plan to use their franchise tag to keep Jamal Adams‘ former back-line safety partner. The Jets must do so by March 9 to keep Maye off the market.
“We have had productive conversations with his reps. … Marcus is a valuable member of this organization,” Douglas said, via SNY. “Someone that started his career here, has been a pro’s pro. [He’s] smart; he’s been reliable and he’s provided outstanding leadership. Our plan hasn’t changed. We’re in the process of having Marcus here long-term.”
The pandemic’s effect on the 2021 salary cap is expected to produce a franchise tag figure that could drop as low as $10MM. Top safeties are now earning nearly $15MM on average, creating a notable gap. As recently as last season, Maye was targeting a deal in the $7MM-per-year range. Now a tag candidate, Maye likely will price himself much higher. Pro Football Focus graded Maye as its No. 5 overall safety in 2020.
Should the Jets tag Maye, they will have until July 15 to extend him this year. Maye is likely to join Denver’s Justin Simmons as safeties to receive the tag. This will keep to marquee free agents off an intriguing safety market, which could raise the price tags of other safeties on track for free agency. Marcus Williams, John Johnson, Anthony Harris and Keanu Neal reside atop that group.
If teams call the Jets about Sam Darnold, Joe Douglas will answer the phone. On Wednesday, the Jets GM said that he’s willing to listen on trade inquiries for the quarterback.
“I will answer the call, if it’s made,” Douglas said (Twitter link via Ralph Vacchiano of SNY). “Sam is, we think, a dynamic playmaker in this league with dynamic talent … But if calls are made, I will answer them.”
Before the NFL’s 2019 trade deadline, Douglas said that Darnold was untouchable. Now, he’s singing a different tune. The Jets have reportedly received real interest in the former USC standout, though Douglas seems to be indicating that the inquiries have yet to come in.
The Jets, armed with ~$90MM this offseason, have plenty of options. A Darnold trade could allow them to use the No. 2 overall pick on their next quarterback of the future. On the flipside, they could keep Darnold — if the offers aren’t to their liking — and take the best player available at No. 2, or trade down from there to fill multiple needs. No matter what, Douglas says he isn’t in any rush.
“We feel like [there’s no] hard timeline in the immediate future to make a decision,” Douglas said.
The Jets haven’t made much of an effort to re-sign Marcus Maye, according to his agent. In a hyper-direct tweet, Erik Burkhardt slammed the Jets for simultaneously slashing payroll and stalling in negotiations.
“Yet [the Jets] refuse to take care of their best player, captain, and team-voted MVP in his prime who had several All-Pro votes,” Burkhardt tweeted. “And [Maye] played out his entire rookie deal and even changed positions [in] his contract year, after they got rid of last year’s All-Pro safety [Jamal Adams].”
The Jets may choose to use the franchise tag on Maye between now and the March 9 deadline. With the expected salary cap drop, the franchise tag value for safeties will probably land at $10MM-$11MM. That doesn’t seem like a bad deal for either party, but Maye’s camp appears to be seeking a longer commitment. Also, it’s not a given that the Jets will actually use the tag on the Florida product.
Back in November, Maye was said to be seeking a $7MM/year deal. Now, after setting career-highs with 88 tackles, 11 passes defensed, and two sacks, Maye is aiming higher. A top of the market payday would mean something in the range of $14MM/year, though it’s hard to see him scoring that type of deal in this climate.
Henry Anderson‘s stint with the Jets has come to an end. The team announced this evening (via Twitter) that they’ve released the veteran defensive lineman.
The 2015 third-round pick out of Stanford spent the first three seasons of his professional career with the Colts, including a 2017 campaign where he started a then-career-high eight games (in nine appearances). Following that season, he was traded to New York for a future seventh-rounder that was originally owned by the Seahawks (a pick that eventually turned into linebacker Zaire Franklin).
Anderson had a breakout campaign during his first season in New York. Despite only starting three games, the defensive lineman compiled a career-high seven sacks in 16 games. That performance ultimately earned the player a lucrative three-year, $25MM extension from the organization.
Anderson took on more of a starting role in the 2019 and 2020 seasons, but he only averaged 16.5 tackles and fewer than one sack per game during those two campaigns. Thanks in part to the reduced production, it always seemed unlikely that Anderson would stick around for the entirety of his contract. ESPN’s Rich Cimini hinted back in December that Anderson could be on his way out of New York, noting that the Jets would save $8.2MM by making the move.
Multiple league sources recently told Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv that they expect the Jets to hit safety Marcus Maye with the franchise tag. Teams have until March 9 to deploy the franchise and transition tags.
With the 2021 salary cap expected to fall between $180MM-$185MM, the franchise tag value for safeties will check in between $10MM-$11MM. That’s not an outrageous sum for a young and talented player like Maye, especially since New York has a ton of salary cap space but not many quality defensive players. And, although most impending free agents do not like being designated as a franchise player, the tag could benefit Maye this year.
The Florida product has played well throughout his first four seasons in the league, and he saved his best performance for his platform campaign. In 2020, his first year without former running mate Jamal Adams, Maye set career-highs in tackles (88), passes defensed (11), and sacks (2). He also intercepted two passes and graded out as the fifth-best safety in the game per Pro Football Focus’ advanced metrics, which were especially fond of his coverage ability.
Nonetheless, several sources tell Vacchiano that Maye is not viewed as a top-tier safety just yet, and since the big money in this year’s free agent cycle might not trickle down past the top tier of talent due to the depressed salary cap, players like Maye may need to settle for one-year pacts in the hopes of a landing a lucrative long-term contract in 2022. Vacchiano says the soon-to-be 28-year-old will be eyeing a top-of-the-market deal (meaning an AAV of $14MM+), but he might have a hard time getting that type of money this year, so a $10MM-$11MM tag wouldn’t be a bad consolation prize.
For what it’s worth, Rich Cimini of ESPN.com said back in November that Maye was eying a $7MM/year contract, though Maye surely values himself more highly than that at this point and would likely prefer to play out the season on the franchise tag rather than settle for a multi-year pact with a $7MM AAV (even if it came with a fair amount of guaranteed money).
As of now, there is no indication that Maye and the Jets are anywhere close to a long-term contract, but the franchise tag would buy them a few more months to find some middle ground in that regard.
New Texans GM Nick Caserio is dug in against the prospect of trading Watson, according to NBC Sports’ Peter King. With the Texans not viewing free agency as a deadline to make a deal, a resolution does not appear imminent. With teams pursuing Watson potentially moving to other options in the near future, it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the days leading up to the new league year.
Thus far, the Texans have not budged. Caserio and Cal McNair have issued multiple statements indicating they want Watson back under center in Houston next season. In holding Watson’s rights, the Texans certainly have leverage. Trading Watson later in the offseason may affect his assimilation with his next team and affect that team’s 2021 roster plan, though that might be a small factor here. And Watson could be fined more than $20MM this year if he is truly committed to never playing for the Texans again, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.
By waiting until after the draft, the Texans would put themselves in danger of downgrading significantly at quarterback and doing so without collecting the kind of trade package that would help kickstart a rebuild. Thanks to their Laremy Tunsil/Kenny Stills trade, the Texans are without 2021 first- and second-round picks. And they may be set to let Will Fuller walk; prior to his trade request, Watson wanted the Texans to retain Fuller. While they would stand to recoup these and much more were they to unload Watson, he remains a Texan for the time being. Where will he be when the season starts?
Although the Texans might not even view the draft as a loose deadline to trade their three-time Pro Bowl passer, the Jets and Dolphins’ draft arsenals would be enticing. Both pick in the top three this year — the Jets at No. 2, the Dolphins third — and hold extra Round 1 picks (the Dolphins at No. 18, the Jets at 23). The Dolphins also have two second-round picks this year, while the Jets have two 2022 first-rounders from the Jamal Adams trade. Watson is believed to be a Robert Saleh fan, but subsequent reports have emerged indicating he would favor a deal to Miami over New York.
The Dolphins and Jets have QBs they could send to Houston, in Tua Tagovailoa and Sam Darnold, and these incumbent options would hold more appeal compared to the passers the Broncos and Panthers could send over. However, Watson has a no-trade clause, and both Carolina and Denver outflank the two AFC East squads at the skill positions.
It is not known how aggressive the 49ers will be, but they did discuss Stafford with the Lions. No offer emerged, however. They have made statements indicating they are fine with Jimmy Garoppolo returning, but Stafford discussions certainly point to San Francisco being interested in a Watson swap. The 49ers’ plan, as of late February, would be either making a Watson-level splash or trot out Garoppolo again. While the Broncos are on Watson’s list of approved destinations, the 49ers may well be ahead of them on said list.
Who are the key dark-horse teams to monitor here? The Raiders have been mentioned as a potential suitor. Of course, they have since been named one of Russell Wilson‘s four acceptable destinations. How much should Watson fetch in a trade? Vote in PFR’s latest poll (link for app users) and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section.
There’s a lot of uncertainty at quarterback for the Jets. Maybe the team will take a quarterback like BYU’s Zach Wilson with the second-overall pick. Maybe they’ll pull off a blockbuster trade for Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson. Or maybe they’ll stick with their incumbent, former third-overall pick Sam Darnold.
As Ralph Vacchiano of SNY.tv writes, the Jets’ unpredictable quarterback situation could influence their ability to attract free agent wideouts to New York. Besides the obvious financial details of an offer, an agent told the reporter that receivers will be most focused on who’s under center as they evaluate signing with the Jets.
“It’s the first question they’re all going to ask, after they know the money,” the agent said. “Money is always going to matter most to some guys. But if it’s close, the Jets are going to have some tough questions to answer.”
“Players don’t like uncertainty,” said a different NFL agent. “I would think those [top receivers] will want to know who their quarterback is going to be, not just for this year, but for the length of their new deal.”
The Jets may not be able to provide that type of clarity to free agents. As Vacchiano notes, GM JoeDouglas is currently evaluating the top quarterback prospects and weighing their ability against Darnold’s ability. Unfortunately, Wilson’s Pro Day isn’t until March 26, while Ohio State’s Justin Fields will be holding his Pro Day on March 30. Free agency starts on March 17, and at that point, the Jets could still be weeks away from making their own internal decision about the position.
Thanks to the poor timing, there’s a chance some of the top free agent wideouts skip New York’s hypothetical offer and join a team with a bona fide starting quarterback. There will be more than half a dozen teams that could look to add free agent wideouts, and if top names like Chris Godwin, Allen Robinson, or Kenny Golladay get slapped with the franchise tag, that means there will be an even higher demand for second-tier receivers (like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Will Fuller, and Corey Davis).
On the flip side, the Jets have more financial flexibility than most teams, as they’ll be armed with $90MM heading into the start of free agency. Even if the team has yet to decide on their direction at quarterback by March 17, they could still entice a free agent with a massive overpay.
Armed with the second-overall pick and a new head coach, the Jets will surely see some major changes next season. However, defensive tackle Quinnen Williams is hoping to stick around for the makeover. During an appearance on CBS Sports Radio, Williams stated his desire to stay in New York for the long haul.
“Yeah, I’d be disappointed,” Williams said when asked about the possibility of a trade (via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk.com). “I really want to be a Jet for life. I like New York and I want to play in New York. I’d be disappointed if they traded me and didn’t tell me.”
The 23-year-old was the third-overall pick only two years ago, and following a disappointing rookie campaign, he showed much more of his promise in 2020. Williams started each of his 13 games this past year, compiling 55 tackles, seven sacks, and two forced fumbles. His season ended on the injured reserve with a neck injury.
Following that underwhelming rookie campaign, there were rumblings that Williams could be on the trade block. Reports at the time indicated that the Jets would want more than a second-round pick for the young defensive lineman, while others believed the organization was merely listening to offers (as opposed to actively shopping him). Those rumors could obviously be troublesome for a young player, but Williams admitted that he’s only focused on what he can control.
“I just handle what I can handle, just control what I can control,” Williams said (via Adam Maya of NFL.com). “Just go out and work hard as I can for any team that I’m on. Hopefully it’s the Jets so I can play with Coach (Robert) Saleh, but any team I’m on, I just work my hardest so that when that comes around I can be the best player I can be.”
The Seahawks have run into a seminal issue with their franchise quarterback, with trade destinations coming out Thursday. At this point, Russell Wilson does not expect the Seahawks to trade him, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets, though multiple NFL executives believe the team will make the decorated quarterback available.
This rift between Wilson and the team stems from several factors. A central component in Wilson’s frustration is Pete Carroll‘s insistence on an offense that features the run more than most NFL attacks do, and The Athletic’s Michael-Shawn Dugar, Mike Sando and Jayson Jenks report Wilson and Carroll have clashed over the past several months on both the Seahawks’ philosophy and personnel (subscription required).
Following a midseason stretch that featured seven Wilson turnovers in two losses, the Seahawks reverted to a more balanced offense. They then finished the regular season with wins in six of their final seven games to post a 12-4 record — the team’s best mark since 2014. Prior to the turnaround, however, Seahawks coaches dismissed Wilson’s ideas for how to repair a suddenly ailing offense, according to The Athletic. This led to Wilson storming out of a meeting.
Wilson fell well off the MVP pace on which he started the season, after he threw 26 touchdown passes in Seattle’s first seven games, and closed the year with an 11-for-27 performance against the Rams in a wild-card loss. After the season, Wilson expressed dissatisfaction with the Seahawks’ offensive line plan publicly. But that came after the nine-year veteran went to Carroll on this matter — one that had bothered him for years. Carroll’s insufficient response to Wilson’s O-line-related concerns, in the 32-year-old passer’s eyes set off the public commentary that has led to trade rumors, per The Athletic.
The Seahawks have not put a tremendous amount of resources into their offensive line in recent years, and Wilson has taken 394 sacks — the most by any quarterback through his first nine seasons. QBs, of course, bear responsibility for sacks alongside offensive linemen.
Past flirtations with trades or other quarterbacks have pushed this situation to this point as well. The Seahawks’ trade talks with the Browns in 2018 — however brief they were — led to Wilson’s 2019 extension containing a no-trade clause. GM John Schneider being on-hand for Josh Allen‘s pro day factored into Wilson’s situation as well, and The Athletic adds that Schneider’s fascination with Patrick Mahomes would have led to the Seahawks taking him had he fallen to them at No. 26 — an unrealistic scenario based on the future MVP’s pre-draft rise — in the 2017 draft. The Cardinals and Saints were prepared to draft Mahomes ahead of the Seahawks.
Beyond the four teams that Wilson’s agent mentioned today as trade destinations his client would approve — the Bears, Cowboys, Saints and Raiders — The Athletic’s report indicated Wilson’s camp discussed trades to the Dolphins and Jets with the Seahawks. Considering both teams’ draft capital and their respective links to Deshaun Watson, it makes sense they would be connected to Wilson as well. It is certainly notable that they were omitted in Mark Rodgers’ Thursday comments, however. The Seahawks have yet to approach Wilson about any potential trades, Fowler notes.
Wilson’s $35MM-per-year contract runs through the 2023 season. It would tag the Seahawks a record $39MM in dead money were they to trade Wilson before June 1, per Spotrac (on Twitter), with a post-June 1 trade defraying $26MM of the hit to 2022. To avoid such a scenario becoming the lead trade in a seismic offseason for quarterback movement, the Seahawks and Wilson may have some fence-mending to do in the coming weeks.
After eleven seasons, Nick Mangold‘s time with the Jets came to an end. On this date in 2017, Gang Green released the veteran center to save roughly $9MM against the cap.
Mangold played in a career-low eight games the previous year and had no guaranteed dollars to go on his deal. It was supposed to be the final year of Mangold’s seven-year Jets contract. He was a standout, a fan favorite, and he was synonymous with the organization for over a decade. However, the Jets were one of the league’s most cap-strapped teams at the time.
A two-time All-Pro and seven-time Pro Bowler, Mangold started all 164 games in which he played for the Jets. Mangold said he’d continue playing after rehabbing from the ankle injury that hampered his 2016 season. Unfortunately, the issue lingered. Contenders like the Ravens could have used Mangold, but he wasn’t able to answer the cll.
The Jets turned the job over to backup Wesley Johnson, who would find himself with the rival Dolphins one year later. Mangold, meanwhile, inked a one-day contract to retire with the Jets in 2018. Ultimately, the beloved center was unable to bounce back at the age of 34.
“Everything that happened from pee-wee football to high school football to having the good fortune to play at The Ohio State University molded me for my opportunity to play for the New York Jets,” said Mangold. “In my 11 years as a Jet, there were plenty of ups and downs but, through it all, I wanted to be the Steady Eddie. I wanted to be the guy that other guys looked at to see how it was done. I learned this attribute from the vets that I played with.”
“My biggest regret is not bringing the Lombardi Trophy to New York but, as I retire, I will continue my efforts to bring the Trophy home in a different capacity. I have no idea what that capacity is but I’m sure I will figure something out in the future.”